‘Take my Hand’: A Gift to Encourage Health Equity in Nursing

UConn Nursing alumna Lisa-Marie W. Griffiths donated over 200 books of the powerful "Take My Hand" to UConn nursing seniors.

UConn Students receive a copy of the book Take My Hand from Dean Dickson.

UConn Senior nursing students receive a copy of the book "Take My Hand" from Dean Dickson.

In just 13 short weeks, the School of Nursing commencement ceremony will occur, and the senior class will be sent off into the world of nursing. During Professor Laura Eiss’s (MSN, RN, ACNS-BC, NPD-BC) Capstone class, students were given the book “Take My Hand” by Dolen Perkins-Valdez. The book not only highlights systemic racism that exists in the health care industry, but it also explores themes of family, community, and the effects of mental health.

UConn student Zaheer Turtem accepts book from Dean Dickson.
UConn student Zaheer Turtem accepts book from Dean Dickson.

Take My Hand has received numerous awards such as the 2023 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work-Fiction, the 2023 Prize for Fiction from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, and the Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association. Dolen is a historical fiction writer and currently works as an associate professor at American University.

Copies were gifted by alumna and retired faculty member Lisa-Marie W. Griffiths ’91 MS (MaED, MSN, MPH, WHCNP, APRN/RN) as she was “deeply moved” by the novel.

UConn Nursing Seniors get their copy of "Take My Hand" from Dean Dickson on January 30th, 2023.
UConn Nursing Seniors get their copy of “Take My Hand” from Dean Dickson on January 30th, 2023.

“As a former UConn Nursing Ethics professor and champion for social justice, I felt that every nurse should read this book. My passion has led me to provide you a copy to help you understand the racism that often exists in our Healthcare system,” she writes in her note that was placed in each book.

Dean Victoria Vaughan Dickson (Ph.D., RN, FAHA, FHFSA, FAAN) presented this gift and expressed her gratitude towards the class. “You came to us at a time when the world was in real turbulence, health care was turned upside down, nursing was faced with unprecedented challenges,” Dickson told students. “I know you are the future of health care, and the future of nursing. I look forward to finishing out the semester with you all!”

Dean Dickson addresses UConn Nursing Senior Class.
Dean Dickson addresses UConn Nursing Senior Class.

Students conveyed their enthusiasm and appreciation for the gift. Amber Olgac shared, “I’m so excited to read this book, and I’m so excited to talk about racism in healthcare because I feel like we don’t talk about it.” Neha Biju agreed that, “it’s a good way to get a new perspective on nursing and different issues we’re going to face.”

Throughout the remainder of the semester there will be ongoing discussions of the book through journal clubs hosted by Assistant Clinical Professor MaryAnn Perez- Brescia and Associate Clinical Professor Michelle Cole. The hope is to bring light to the racial imbalance in today’s health care system and allow students to prepare for their roles as nurses in today’s world.

Student Writer Nicole Dobrzanski, contributed to this report.