Dr. Jasper Erwin Tolarba ’15 DNP, RN, CNE, CGNC, FACHE, FAAN is among the inaugural graduates of the Yale School of Nursing Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Class of 2015. He is the first foreign educated nurse to hold the Director position at the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools or CGFNS International. At present, he is the inaugural Beatrice Hofstadter White Endowed Chair for Nursing Practice, Education, Research, and Innovation at Nuvance Health System and Sacred Heart University in New York and Connecticut. Dr. Tolarba spent almost a year in the Kingdom of Jordan as a 2019-2020 Fulbright Research Scholar under the US-Jordan Binational Fulbright Commission. He is the Founder and President of the Society of Internationally Educated Nurses in North America (SIENNA), a professional association of IENs who migrated or planning to migrate in the United States and Canada. 

Dr. Tolarba strongly believes that all healthcare organizations need to establish effective onboarding and acculturation programs for all internationally educated healthcare professionals and should advocate for their ethical recruitment. He loves to travel with his family and plays chess and table tennis as a hobby.

Below he shares how the Yale community helped shape the person he is today and his appreciation for the campus architecture. 

Why Yale?
Yale has been instrumental in honing my knowledge and skills not just as a nurse but holistically as a person. It has instilled in me the values of serving others and providing better health for all people. When I entered Yale School of Nursing as part of the inaugural DNP cohort in 2012, I was really drawn into the vast network and resources that I would have at my disposal. Subsequently, I came out of the program in 2015 with the realization that with those opportunities and privileges come a great responsibility to help others so that they could be effective and productive in their own roles in providing help and service to other people. Yale's global health program and international links allowed me to look at a broader perspective which I would not have otherwise seen if I had kept in my own comfort zone.

What is your most enduring memory of your time at Yale? 
The most enduring memories at Yale were the people I met along the way. My professors were well-respected nurse scholars -- two were American Academy of Nursing's Living Legends awardees, the highest accolade one can get in the profession (the late Drs. Donna Diers and Ruth McCorkle). My classmates turned out to be well-accomplished nurses, scholars, and leaders in their own fields of expertise. Our discussions were teeming with rich ideas, and everyone was so supportive of each other. Even to this day, members of my DNP Class of 2015 still surprise me with how they excel in their jobs and contribute to society. I can always look back and proudly say that I was once in the same learning environment as them. I will never forget the people that I met during my Yale journey. I am who I am today partly because of them.

If you could relive your time at Yale, what would you do differently?
I don't think I would change anything necessarily but perhaps add to the curriculum an opportunity to have some collaborative projects with other disciplines or professions. As nurses, we often get so engrossed with the issues and problems that stare before us that we forget that some of them are best resolved with input and help from other professions such as physicians, business leaders, scientists, educators, etc. The diversity in background and expertise are fertile grounds for innovative ideas. 

What would you do exactly the same? 
I would do the DNP program the same exact way -- hybrid where we only meet in person once a month to maintain the close-knit community of the cohort but keep most of the academic work remote to facilitate work-life balance and keep the application local in our own workplaces. I think that is my ideal learning environment.

What is your favorite place in New Haven, past or present? 
Definitely Mory's Temple Bar. That is where our professors welcomed us during our first day with a lovely dinner and also where we celebrated when we completed our program 3 years later. It makes me nostalgic thinking about those times.

What is your favorite spot on campus?
Sterling Library to me is nothing short of captivating and enchanting no matter how many times I visit. We held classes in one of the underground classrooms there and it was magical. I also love hanging out on Old Campus, admiring the beauty of Harkness Tower, Lawrence Hall, Dwight Hall, etc. It is by far the best campus architecture; way better than the one in Boston! :)

What's your favorite pizza place in New Haven?
I am not a big pizza person but I did try most of the places and the famous Frank Pepe's did not disappoint.

Who is another Yalie who inspires you? Why?
One of the fellow Yalies who inspires me is a classmate of mine in my DNP Program. She is Chief Mutáwi Mutáhash (Many Hearts) Marilynn “Lynn” Malerba ’15 DNP, who became the 18th Chief of the Mohegan Tribe in 2010. When she was my classmate, you would never know that she had accomplished so much already in her career because she was a very down-to-earth and approachable person. Today, I am proud to say that she is the United States Treasurer, and her signature appears on our US bills and currency. Her achievements inspire me because she has not limited herself to the confines of nursing, or healthcare, but has even further broken the glass ceiling, and uses her background to show the world that nurses can be effective leaders in whatever offices or situations we put them. Yet, the mission remains -- to serve others.

What have you gained from your alumni engagement with Yale?
My alumni engagement allowed me to still be connected with my school and with Yale even years after I graduated. Yale is still interested in the achievements that I obtain even when I am not there as a student. They publish my accolades in the alumni magazine as well as on social media platforms. I feel that I still belong, and my school is always proud of me no matter where I may be in my career.

How did your time at Yale shape the person you are today?
I learned to become more grounded as a person. It took me getting a doctorate degree at Yale to realize that I only know so little. I also realized that with what little I know, I am obliged to share that with others. I have been fortunate enough to get a Yale education and I do everything I can to share my knowledge by giving lectures and seminars locally, nationally, and internationally. By sharing and pouring into others' cups, I get my own cup filled. It might sound paradoxical, but it is absolutely true.

What is your hope for the future of the Yale alumni community?
I am hoping that despite the differences in ideas, opinions, and values that each individual holds, everyone finds harmony and solidarity in the common virtues of respect, integrity, and quest to serve not just people and humanity but all living things and the environment. After all, we share this one planet and that is all that we have.

What advice would you give to current students?
I would say make the most of your time at Yale. Be a well-rounded person and don't only focus on your academics. Expand your network and meet people. They are as important as your education in the classroom.

How would you answer? Share your responses with the YAA and they might be featured in an upcoming edition of "Getting to Know You." 

And be sure to check out all the Q&As in the series by visiting our Getting to Know You page.

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