CU Nursing New Alumni Board Members

Get to Know Our New CU Nursing Alumni Association Board Members

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Written by Katelyn Nolan on July 29, 2021

The CU College of Nursing Alumni Association Board of Directors is excited to announce six new outstanding members. Alumni members of the Board serve 3-year terms with an option for a second term. Please join us in welcoming these alumnae to the Board!


Salwa Mourtada Bamba, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, FNP-C

Salwa Mourtada Bamba, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, FNP-C

Salwa Mourtada Bamba, DNP-Candidate, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC, FNP-C graduated from the CU College of Nursing in 2011 and 2020 with her BSN and MS, respectively. Her master’s degree was completed in the Family Nurse Practitioner Program, and she is currently in the clinical track DNP program. She is serving in an NP faculty fellowship at the University of Colorado School of Medicine Division of Geriatric Medicine at the UCHealth Senior’s Clinic. As a doctoral-prepared Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioner, she will bring organizational healthcare leadership skills in the Quality Improvement arena where she hopes to affect structural change in healthcare systems.

As a child, Salwa loved caring for others. Her inspiration to become a nurse was solidified during the war in her home country of Liberia. The United Nations (UN) came searching for anyone with an education interested in helping. At the time, Salwa was only 13 when the UN petitioned her father to let her join their clinical team since there were few with education in the area. During her training and service, she triaged wounded and sick soldiers and civilians through enemy lines. “This was it,” Salwa recalls. “I loved the work and wanted to spend my life as a nurse.” In total, the Liberian Civil War lasted 20 years. Although communities are still struggling with the ramifications of war, when the UN troops withdrew, they left the country in a peaceful and stable state.

Salwa’s parents believed in the importance of education for their children. Throughout the war, schools would close and reopen sporadically. They made sure she and her siblings were always back in classes each time the schools reopened. Salwa’s family encouraged her to pursue her passion for nursing after experiencing the war, which she saw to fruition in the United States. “I hope my history brings strength to others that might have similar experiences,” she says. “I want people to know they can overcome their hardships and break barriers to get to a place where they feel safe.”

Salwa is motivated by service to others. Last June, during the fight for social justice, she felt the turmoil and tension within communities. Together with other CU College of Nursing classmates, she founded Future Voices, an organization advocating to “create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive College of Nursing.” The student group organizes and supports events across campus. Salwa says, “My drive is to continue to positively impact people like me. I want to empower others, elevate them, and remove barriers and circumstances that keep us down.”

Salwa is a loving wife and mother of 4 beautiful children in whom she strives to instill the same values she was taught by her wonderful parents in Liberia: hard work and perseverance. She hopes to share her myriad of experiences to empower young women and girls in here in the US, and in her beloved home in Liberia soon.


Carlin Callaway, DNP, RN, ACNP-BC, ACNS-BC, AOCNP®

Carlin Callaway, DNP, RN, ACNP-BC, ACNS-BC, AOCNP®

Carlin Callaway graduated from CU College of Nursing with a BSN in 1997 and a DNP in 2016. Today, she is the Lead Advanced Practice Provider for Medical Oncology at the University of Colorado Cancer Center.

Early on, Callaway looked up to her grandmother, who was a nurse and her original inspiration. Through her undergraduate education, Callaway worked at Children's Hospital in the inpatient bone marrow transplant unit. To pay for her BSN, she used a Navy ROTC scholarship. Prior to receiving her Navy commission, Callaway took a chance and wrote to the Director of Nursing Services at a U.S. Navy Hospital in Virginia about her experience, and fortunately, the hospital was looking for a nurse with oncology experience. Over 20 years of Callaway’s nursing career have been spent serving in the U.S. Navy in oncology.

Callaway’s first experience at the CU College of Nursing was as an undergraduate nursing student living at the previous 9th and Colorado campus. That was before the medical professions moved to the current CU Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. “It was a quaint campus,” she says. “I must have eaten at Chipotle every week when it first opened! I loved that energy.”

Today, Callaway works on the Anschutz Medical Campus serving survivorship patients as their treatment transitions to surveillance. She was happy to move back to Colorado after leaving the state for a brief time. “The intellectual stimulation on this medical campus is exciting – lunch and learns, research opportunities, and standing side-by-side with the nation’s most prominent oncologists. These are the people that write the guidelines for my profession,” she says warmly.

Callaway hopes to engage fellow alumni and students in her role on the CU Nursing Alumni Association Board of Directors. “This is my opportunity to give back to the next generation of nurses. CU College of Nursing is one of the universities that educated and invested in me, so I want to pay it forward.” When sharing advice for students, she says, “Join professional organizations and get involved. Take time to cultivate relationships and be the leader others want to follow.”


Miriam Cavender, BSN, RN, NCSN with student

Miriam Cavender, BSN, RN, NCSN

Miriam Cavender, BSN Class of 2017, works for Denver Public Schools as a School Nurse Care Coordinator.

Since childhood, Miriam Cavender (BS ’17) has dreamt of providing care for others. She remembers, “As a freshman in high school I told a counselor that I wanted to be a neo-natal nurse.” She experienced her first career as a veterinary technician. The community in which she worked was affluent, allocating a plethora of resources to pet and animal care. Cavender saw the abundance of resources and realized, as much as she enjoyed serving animals, she wanted to focus on humans. Around that time, she had a baby, leading to her interest in children and pediatrics. “There are many crossovers between animals and pediatrics. They can’t always speak for themselves, but they are always their truest self,” Cavender says.

When Cavender recollects her time at CU College of Nursing, she speaks with pride. “I hold a degree from an incredible nursing college. It was rigorous, and we were pushed to our limits in a way that truly prepared us for the work of being a nurse.” She notes that faculty member and fellow Alumni Association Board Member, Tammy Spencer, was “the heart of nursing” while at the college. “She was the perfect educator. She didn’t sell us short, but also allowed us to be fragile.” Teresa Connolly, a CU Nursing Assistant Professor, also made an impression, as she was a young parent who had proven hard work and passion for nursing could create an impactful career. “Her love for nursing is tangible, and her humor was a fantastic way to take the stress off and build trust between herself and us as students. She allowed us to feel like colleagues.”

Cavender started her career after graduation at Craig Hospital in their new graduate program. She was working nights caring for brain health patients, but quickly realized she was not in her niche.

After leaving Craig Hospital, she took time to work at Denver Public Schools, where her children were attending, as a Nurse Technician. She immediately fell in love with community health and working with children. Another nurse she was working with at the time encouraged her to apply to be a school nurse, and Cavender started that position in 2019. “I was working at three different schools,” Cavender recalls. “It was overwhelming, but I had found what I was willing to work my tail off for.” She was promoted to School Nurse Care Coordinator in December of 2020. “Now that I am in a leadership position, I want to retire at DPS. I love the kids and my team members. We serve underserved populations, which is so important to me.”

Burnout rates in nursing are high, and to our recent alumni and current students, Cavender encourages self-reflection. “It is important to not feel like you need to stick to something that is burning you out. Your calling to nursing is not burnt out, but the position you currently occupy might be burning you out.” Her advice to current students and alumni alike – “Don’t be afraid to try out different areas of nursing. If the fit isn’t right, look for non-obvious nursing positions. Think outside the box and broaden your horizons. There is a role for every nurse.”


Michelle Dabdoub, BSN, RN

Michelle Dabdoub, BSN, RN

Michelle Dabdoub graduated from CU College of Nursing’s undergraduate accelerated program in 2011, and she is currently working at Presbyterian St. Lukes as a staff RN.

Having grown up with teachers for parents, Michelle knew she was drawn to professions that help other humans. She remembered, “I was interested in medicine. I even found a kindergarten paper where I had listed out potential future careers for myself and had written that I wanted to be a pediatric surgeon. Eventually, I landed on nursing, which was the best choice for me.”

Accelerated undergraduate programs are often described as intense. “Nursing programs are all intense, but any accelerated program does pack in a lot more content with a very limited amount of time to learn it all,” Michelle said. She recalls transitioning to the working world and feeling well prepared. “The simulations were crucial before heading into clinical rotations.” Michelle also credits memorable faculty and her close-knit cohort for supporting her throughout the program.

For Michelle, who received guidance during her education, giving back to CU College of Nursing students is important. “Joining the Alumni Association Board of Directors is my opportunity to help students have a wonderful experience at the College. I loved CU and I’m so excited to reconnect.”

To our students and young alumni, Michelle recommends pushing through the tough times. Within the first years of nursing education and practice, there will many challenges young nurses face. “There is so much to learn. I want to tell students that you cannot learn it all in the classroom. Lots of the education will happen in simulations and in the clinics. Have confidence and ask questions when you are uncertain. Nursing can be the most rewarding career. Finishing nursing school and starting my career are my two biggest accomplishments in my life.”

Since 2013, Michelle has been donating her spare time to Donor Alliance, encouraging people to register as organ and tissue donors. “My sister-in-law is a kidney recipient and I have participated in some transplant surgeries in the OR.”

Outside of her work and volunteer life, Michelle loves reading, hiking, and spending time with friends and family.


Robyn Moon, BSN, CCRN with Everett, Zahra and Vivian (L-R)

Robyn Moon, BSN, CCRN

Robyn Moon graduated from the CU College of Nursing’s traditional BSN program in 2008. Today she is a critical care nurse at Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center on the Anschutz Medical Campus.

Before her career as a nurse, Moon managed an Alzheimer’s unit and focused on planned activities for patients. At that position, she was once in a dangerous situation where a patient was trying to escape, and an RN had to administer medication. This became an “ah-ha” moment for Moon, who knew she wanted to be a nurse with the ability to provide what was needed for patients, and not have to wait for others to come in and help.

Moon started the educational process then and there. Originally, she was hoping to get into the CU Nursing accelerated program (UCAN), but hindsight has proven the traditional undergraduate program was the right fit for her. She completed an internship at the VA, which led to her job after graduating. “I felt prepared for my position,” Moon remembers. “The faculty were incredible – laying the foundation for the clinical experiences. So much of nursing is learned on the job that you must be open to acquiring skills in person. We don’t have all the answers, but we were taught to listen and absorb.”

Providing care of military veterans is Moon’s passion. “I love working and interacting with this population,” she says. “Face-to-face interaction is a key element of veteran health care. I love engaging with others and making a difference in their lives.” She calls herself fortunate to work part-time while raising young children. “I’m in this for the long game and would love to stay at the VA for 30 more years.”

In her new role on the CU Nursing Alumni Association Board of Directors, Moon is looking forward to supporting students. In the fall of 2020, she participated in a mentoring program organized by the Alumni Board and finds connecting with students fulfilling. “Students and young alumni need encouragement. It can be overwhelming to enter a nursing career, especially with the competitiveness of the field right now. I want to help create opportunities for us to connect and build supportive relationships.”


Hermella Yilma, BS, MSMHA, BSN, RN

Hermella Yilma, BS, MSMHA, BSN, RN

Hermella Yilma graduated from CU College of Nursing in 2020 from the Traditional BSN program. She initially had plans of pursuing a veterinary degree before her time at the College of Nursing. Hermella’s first career was spent working at an animal clinic, but she knew she was meant to do something bigger. Being that she was born in Ethiopia, she saw firsthand the health disparities that existed in that region, so she shifted her focus to human medicine & went on to get her Master’s in Modern Human Anatomy at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

While in school, Hermella worked as a scribe & observed various medical roles and grew an admiration for nurses that showed extraordinary patient care. “Doctors rely upon nurses, patients rely on nurses, and families rely on nurses,” she says, highlighting the essential role nurses play in clinical care. Her respect for nurses eventually led her to pursue her BSN.

When contemplating the various paths in nursing, Hermella visualizes herself as an independent practitioner, focusing her career goals on the Nurse Practitioner route. As the institution where the nurse practitioner was invented, the CU College of Nursing was a natural choice. “I enjoyed my time there. My nursing classmates helped me branch out. During previous schooling, I stayed independent, but in nursing school, everyone was a team. We all experienced everything together, both the good and difficult moments.”

Today, Hermella works in the Emergency Department at Parker Adventist Hospital. She is looking forward to furthering her nursing education and earning her doctorate, with the hopes of going into teaching in the clinical world. “There is not much ethnic diversity in medical field. I want patients and students to have nurses that they identify with. It is important that we better represent the communities we serve,” says Hermella.

Hermella advises that nurses should never stop being students. “Nursing is a field where you are never truly comfortable. When you get comfortable, that is when you are dangerous to patients. It is so easy to miss something, so don’t become robotic. Always be eager to ask questions, learn, and grow.”

Topics: Alumni