University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Nursing senior Jeff Maler has a true world view, raised by his parents as a self-described military brat. Maler says he’s comfortable with new situations, thanks in part to his family moving seven times as he grew up, spending most of those years living abroad while his parents worked in the United States Air Force.
His ability to adapt to new surroundings will come in handy after graduation, as he’ll be spending the next three to four years as an active duty United States Army nurse at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. Maler will do so as a recipient of the 2016 Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence (PLME), the first UC College of Nursing student to be so honored.
His reaction when he got the word? "To tell you the truth, I was shocked,” Maler says. "I know a lot of the other people who applied and there were so many great applicants.”
As a PLME recipient, Maler proudly waves the flag for the UC College of Nursing. "Our motto is ‘UC Nurses, We See Leaders,’ and it’s an honor to embody that at the college level and show that nurses are about a little more than just patient care,” he explains. "We’re able to help lead the transformation of health care.”
Maler developed his leadership skills by being involved in several organizations while at UC. The one that changed his life, he says, was Team Red, White and Blue (RWB), a national veteran’s outreach organization whose mission is to enrich the lives of veterans through physical and social activities.
Within a year of joining the group, he accepted the veterans outreach director leadership position, making him responsible for reaching out to veterans in the region and connecting them with the resources and organizations to meet their needs.
"While volunteering with RWB, I observed the transformation veterans achieve while participating within the organization,” Maler says. "Watching veterans thrive socially and physically within Team Red, White and Blue is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had.”
Maler is also active in many other student organizations and clubs at UC including Army ROTC, Honors Ambassadors, College of Nursing (CoN) Ambassadors, UC American Assembly for Men in Nursing, Student Nurses Association, Nursing Tribunal, CoN Undergraduate Research Scholars Program, the Honors Program and the University Honors Association.
Maler was one of a group of students and staff from UC who took a study tour trip to the Amazon in Brazil this past March where his leadership skills became evident once again. "I never saw myself as a role model or mentor, but in this trip a lot of people came up to me and said I’ve been a big influence on them or that they look up to me,” he says. "That people look up to me even with all my failures, that says something about me.”
His passion for research has him planning to pursue his PhD at UC once his military commitment is complete. "I’ve been able to do research as an undergrad working with Dr. Donna Martsolf and some of the other PhD students and it’s been fantastic to work with them and really get the mentorship that they provide,” he says. "It’s an honor to work with and learn from them to help transform nursing in the future.”