I would like to nominate Dr. Peninnah Kako, PhD, RN, FNP-BC, APNP, Assistant Professor of Nursing at UW-Milwaukee, for the DAISY Faculty Award because she has gone above and beyond in her role as my major professor. First and foremost, she encouraged me to choose a research focus that I felt passionate about when I first started my program in 2013. She encouraged me to be creative, spent many hours helping me work through my ideas, and related with her practice experiences. She also encouraged me to trust my intuition and to look past the negative criticism of others.
Second, Dr. Kako has pushed me to publish and present from the beginning of my program. She helped me in one of my courses during her summer vacation and helped me to use that work to co-author an abstract that led to my first poster presentation. Then, she spent over a year and a half working with me and another faculty to prepare that work for publication; and she celebrated with me after we found out it was accepted without revisions. She has also co-authored several conference abstract submissions, even when I sent her last-minute requests. More recently, she came to one of my first podium presentations to offer her support. She continues to teach me out to disseminate my work concisely and effectively.
Third, Dr. Kako has encouraged me to jump right in to becoming a researcher. She offered her ongoing feedback as I did secondary analysis with her research data and even involved another student as a co-author. She spent countless hours helping me write my first grant application and then continued to help me through the lengthy IRB approval process. And, she let me dance in her office when we found out that we were awarded that grant. Now, Dr. Kako is serving as the co-investigator on my first funded research study; and she has helped me to have a related abstract selected for a poster presentation.
Fourth, Dr. Kako has shown that she cares about me as a person through her encouragement to step back and take breaks. This support has allowed me to work through major challenges, regain a sense of balance, stay motivated, and retain my full-time status. She has provided invaluable emotional support when I have had difficult courses and demanding professors, and even let me to cry in her office without a second thought. We now often begin and end our meetings with a hug because those experiences have built such trust.
Finally, Dr. Kako is extremely committed to mentorship in additional ways for myself and other students. She frequently puts my work in perspective by sharing her experiences as a doctoral student and new faculty to help me try to avoid some of the challenges she faced. She has written several amazing letters of recommendation for scholarships and other opportunities on my behalf and for countless other students. She spoke about her program of research to my class last fall and answered our many questions about how we might best plan for our futures as nurse scientists. She has also taken on the role of major professor for several additional doctoral students as other faculty have left. I frequently have discussions with those students about how lucky we are to have such a skilled, kind, and dedicated major professor.