Erin Burney Selected as March's Student Leader of the Month

Erin Burney, the March Student Leader of the Month
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Erin Burney, the March Student Leader of the Month

Senior Erin Burney has been selected as the Student Leader of the Month for March 2024. Originally from West Fork, Burney came to the U of A to study nursing and pre-medicine in the Honors College.

Burney is heavily involved on campus and the community. She is the president of Alpha Epsilon Delta and the Neuroscience Organization, and treasurer of Active Neuro. She is also a member of the Emergency Medicine Club, National Student Nurse's Association and the Emergency Medicine Association. Additionally, she is a social mentor for EMPOWER, a peer mentor of Alpha Epsilon Delta, a research assistant in Kumar's Biochemistry Lab, former Honors College ambassador and a nurse extern at Encompass Health and Rehab. Being in her final semester, she plans on taking the MCAT and applying to medical school soon. She got involved in these organizations because she wanted to fill her time with things that would make her more well-rounded as a leader and give her opportunities that would be beneficial towards the skills needed to become a nurse and doctor.

Burney believes one of the most vital qualities in a leader is to have integrity.

"Being an individual with integrity is by far the most important quality to possess as a leader," Burney said. "Doing the right thing when no one is around, without expectation of reward, is indicative of a leader who cares about what they're doing. A good leader goes out of their way to make sacrifices for their team and is always accountable for their actions and inadequacies. One of the ways good leaders exhibit accountability is by accepting constructive criticism and being adaptive to change when it's needed."

She wants to encourage others to delegate.

"Delegation is a skill that takes time to master," Burney said. "First, you must make an effort to know your team. Sometimes it's difficult to balance fun and friendliness with productivity and responsibility. To be the one in charge, especially among your peers, it's important to set expectations early on to demonstrate when the times for fun and responsibilities should occur. Then, you have to share the fun of running the club with everyone else and put trust in your team members. As president or supervisor, you become very familiar with how to run things and how to complete various tasks; you essentially understand every role you're leading. Allowing those to complete tasks who might not know as much will make the club run efficiently, prevent leader burnout and help pass along the organization when your term is complete."

She would like to thank her parents.

"My parents have been mentors to me through my entire college experience," she said. "They inspire me to be stronger every day physically, mentally and spiritually. My mom works as a full-time nurse, first in the ER and now in rehabilitation health. She is undoubtedly the model behind my humble, kind and serving heart. There is not a soul on this planet who could say an unkind word about my mom, and I'm sure her coworkers and patients can attest. My dad stays at home to maintain the structure of my family of nine. He is certainly the one who is responsible for my questioning, persistent and dedicated nature. I tend to challenge myself with leadership even when it has no obvious benefit. I am the second oldest child, an academic model among my peers, a knowledgeable assistant in my research lab, a mentor for special needs and pre-medical students, president of two clubs and an outspoken advocate for my patients. There's not an area in my life that I haven't challenged myself with leadership of some kind, and I'd like to thank my parents for instilling the motivation within me to be better every day."

She would like to leave everyone with her favorite leadership quote from her dad. "My dad is the wisest person I know," she said. "From the start of college, he has attempted to prepare me for my future career with a mnemonic [device] he made himself. 'To be hired, you must be HIRED,'" he says. "'HIRED stands for honor, integrity, respect, excellence and dedication. These qualities are essential not only to be hired at the hospital (for example) but also in life.' Prioritizing these qualities in my life has made my leadership experiences very successful. I'm proud to say that I killed it at my first and only job interview! I am filling in one of the few spots of the emergency department at Mercy Rogers, which is very difficult to get as a new grad."

The Student Leader of the Month award, sponsored by New Student & Family Programs, recognizes U of A undergraduate students for their excellence in leadership through campus involvement, leadership activities or through volunteer and community service. More information about the award can be found here.

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