Friday, October 6, 2023

Nanle Joseph Gusen, a PhD student enrolled in the University of Iowa College of Nursing, is a testament to passion for making a difference in health care and active engagement on campus through student leadership. In a candid interview, Gusen shared his inspiring journey, from his upbringing in Nigeria to his current role as a student leader on campus. 

The call of health care 

Gusen’s calling to health care came early in life. He recalled, "My desire for health care began quietly in childhood, partly from my desire to care for the sick because of the unpleasant experience of being ill." This childhood inspiration continued to grow during his undergraduate years at the University of Jos in Nigeria, where he discovered a deep passion for nursing. "I saw patients receiving hope and healing when I cared for them," he said, emphasizing the pivotal role health care played in his life. 

Nanle Gusen with patient
Caring for patient in Nigeria

From Nigeria to Iowa 

Gusen’s journey took an international turn when he pursued a master's degree in social work in health care, funded by a scholarship for Christian young people in Hungary. But why did he choose the University of Iowa for his PhD studies? "I learned about the Center for Nursing Classification and Clinical Effectiveness at the University of Iowa College of Nursing at a conference," he explained. "This institution's reputation for high-quality education and research was a perfect fit for my goals to build on my research in health care." 

"Be proactive in seeking opportunities, prioritize self-care and mental wellness, and stay focused on your goals."

A leader on campus 

Gusen’s involvement on Iowa’s campus is nothing short of impressive. He shared, "I keep an eye on opportunities and get involved in various leadership roles. I've been a delegate and liaison for the Association of Graduate Nursing Students to the Graduate and Professional Student Government, a mental health director for the Graduate and Professional Student Government, and a board member of the International Student Advisory Board, among other roles." 

Nanle Gusen with advisors
Attending the Center for Nursing Classification Celebration with advisor Dr. Karen Dunn Lopez (left) and research supervisor Dr. Natany da Costa Ferreira Oberfrank

Favorite leadership experience 

When asked about his favorite leadership experience, Gusen didn’t hesitate to answer. "Guiding and supporting new students as a small group leader and mentor for incoming international graduate students," he said with pride. "It allowed me to help students transition better and adapt to a new culture and academic environment." 

Nanle Gusen ISSS
Working as a small group leader at the International Student Orientation​​​​

Engagement led to empowerment 

Gusen acknowledges the impact of student engagement opportunities on campus, especially through International Programs. "They've broadened my horizons and developed my skills in a diverse and inclusive environment," he affirmed. Additionally, engagement opportunities offered by the College of Nursing, including but not limited to mentoring incoming students, participating in workshops and conferences, and attending social events like Dean's Club dinner, Thanksgiving dinner, and American football, alongside networking opportunities, have been beneficial to his professional and holistic development. 

Nanle Gusen football
Watching football with Dr. Julie Zerwic (left), dean of the College of Nursing

Words of wisdom 

For prospective and current international graduate and professional students, Gusen offered sage advice: "Be proactive in seeking opportunities, prioritize self-care and mental wellness, and stay focused on your goals. The graduate journey may be challenging, but it can be incredibly rewarding."



International Programs (IP) at the University of Iowa (UI) is committed to enriching the global experience of UI students, faculty, staff, and the general public by leading efforts to promote internationally oriented teaching, research, creative work, and community engagement.  IP provides support for international students and scholars, administers scholarships and assistance for students who study, intern, or do research abroad, and provides funding opportunities and grant-writing assistance for faculty engaged in international research. IP shares their stories through various media, and by hosting multiple public engagement activities each year.