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UTEP Nursing Graduate Shines on Volunteer Service

Last Updated on May 30, 2018 at 12:00 AM

Originally published May 30, 2018

By Laura L. Acosta

UTEP Communications

David Reyes is a shining example of a UTEP student whose education was enriched by his service to the community.

David Reyes
David Reyes graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from The University of Texas at El Paso in May 2018. Photo: Laura Trejo/UTEP Communications

Reyes, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from The University of Texas at El Paso in May 2018, logged 237 volunteer hours over the four-semester nursing program. This is the most volunteer hours contributed by any member of UTEP’s Texas Nursing Students' Association (TNSA) to the community.

The School of Nursing presented Reyes with the Shining Star Award for his record-setting efforts at April’s UTEP Honors Convocation.

“He is a role model to other students because he has demonstrated you can do all these things,” said Clinical Assistant Professor Shalla Copeland, Ph.D., who is the TNSA faculty adviser. “You can shine as a student and do well. You can shine by volunteering in the community. And you can still have a life!”

Reyes joined TNSA during his first semester of the nursing program. Since then, he has given his time to supporting causes on and off campus. A monthly health fair he coordinated at the El Paso Downtown Artist and Farmers Market with the National Association of Hispanic Nurses was recognized as the 2018 Program of the Year by UTEP’s Student Organization Services (SOS).

“I try to volunteer as much as I can,” said Reyes, who plans to become a pediatric oncology nurse. “It’s not even work to me. It goes back to patient care; I love talking to people. I love the social aspect of it. I get to meet people and help the community, so it’s a win-win.”

A little shy at first, Reyes learned that nurses must have excellent communication skills in order to connect with patients and provide the best care possible. He credits his volunteer work with helping to boost his self-confidence.

Reyes practiced his nursing skills by performing blood pressure screenings at health fairs, participated in charity walks to raise awareness about cystic fibrosis and organ donation, and taught elementary school children how to take vital signs with a stethoscope at the Teddy Bear Clinic at Silva Health Magnet High School.

“We were supposed to teach kids how to take vitals on a teddy bear,” Reyes recalled. “I thought that was boring, and I told the kids, ‘I’m going to teach you how to take vitals on each other.’ And watching them light up when they heard their heartbeats or listened to their stomachs for bowel sounds, that was amazing to me!”

The UTEP chapter of TNSA is an affiliate of the National Student Nurses Association. The TNSA contributes to the overall enhancement of the nursing profession by providing UTEP nursing students networking and mentorship opportunities through community service.

TNSA students perform more than 3,000 hours of volunteer service each year, Copeland said.

Each semester, they organize food, clothes or school supply drives. TNSA members have collected 2,000 canned good items and 100 pairs of shoes for the Opportunity Center for the Homeless. They’ve also donated over 1,500 school supply items to the Child Crisis Center of El Paso and Aoy Elementary School.

Members also volunteer at UTEP-related events such as Project Move and help at School of Nursing events, including the school’s red carpet ceremony for incoming nursing students. 

“You can see how much these students grow through their service,” said Copeland, UTEP’s SOS 2018 Advisor of the Year. “We’re going to help them with their assessment skills because they’re going to go out and assess people. We’re going to help them with their communication skills because they’re also going to do a lot of patient education. So to give students opportunities to go out into the community and talk to different people and provide services is a huge confidence booster for them.”

Out of 45 TNSA members who graduated this spring, 32 had achieved at least 60 volunteer hours, which is the average number of hours for most members. They each received a blue and white cord to wear at the UTEP Commencement ceremony.

Community Engagement: A UTEP Edge Experience

UTEP Miners give back to their community while also acquiring essential skills that help with their academic learning and formation as citizens and professionals. Through a variety of community activities, students learn about social contexts and challenges as well as how to positively impact their community. Learn more at

Before Reyes, Ashley Hill held the record for most volunteer hours worked by a TNSA member.

Hill had accumulated 200 community service hours by the time she graduated from the School of Nursing in December 2017. Even though they were a semester apart, Hill and Reyes volunteered together at several events.

Because of her outstanding service, the TNSA named an award after Hill, which is presented each semester to a TNSA member who is graduating with the largest number of documented volunteer service hours. Reyes received the first “Ashley Hill Award” at the TNSA banquet in May. 

“I’m extremely honored to have (Reyes) be the first one to receive this award,” Hill said. “I look up to David for a lot of reasons, especially for how well he leads by example and is always diligent to accomplish anything he commits himself to.”

TNSA also offered Reyes the opportunity to mentor other nursing students.

At age 37, many of Reye’s younger classmates looked to him for guidance, support and encouragement.

“My advice to new nursing students is to get involved in the community like I did,” Reyes said. “It’s absolutely going to make me a better nurse.”