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Every year, the NKU College of Health Professions and the Cantrall family will award the Janice Mabry Cantrall Excellence in Leadership Award to an outstanding ABSN student. 

Hannah Kelly knew she did not want to work in a lab. After earning her degree in anthropology from the University of Kentucky, she realized that her true calling was to become a nurse.

“I wanted to work with people, and I had been inspired by someone I used to babysit for to pursue nursing,” Hannah said.

Hannah was one of 21 students to graduate Dec. 13, 2014, from Northern Kentucky University’s accelerated bachelor in science in nursing degree program. The rigorous 16-month program requires students, all of whom hold undergraduate degrees and have outstanding academic credentials, to complete a three-year program in less than two years. The program is designed for full-time, nonworking students who want to make a career change.

“You have to prioritize and take things as they come (while in the program),” Hannah said. “I tried to stay on top of everything but still take time for myself. I would squeeze in time to run and exercise and hang out with my friends and family.”

She also represented her class on the Student Advisory Board, where she worked with NKU nursing faculty and staff to enhance the academic experience for nursing students. As a result, her peers and professors nominated Hannah for the first Janice Mabry Cantrall Excellence in Leadership Award.

The Cantrall family created the award in 2014 to honor the life and career Janice Cantrall. A long-time nurse, nurse educator and nurse administrator, Janice earned her advanced degrees while juggling family and work. She also was a professor at NKU. Janice, her husband Gene and members of their family helped present the award to Hannah at the 2014 Nursing Pinning Ceremony. Janice received a standing ovation.

“I am so thankful to the Cantrall family, and I am so honored and humbled that my peers and professors viewed me as a leader,” Hannah said.

After applying for licensure in Tennessee and passing her NCLEX, Hannah will enter the nurse residency program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in pediatric critical care. The position is a mixture of work and more schooling, allowing Hannah to work while learning specific skills that she will need on the job.