Growing up in the Philippines, Jamille Nagtalon-Ramos often visited her mother and grandmother at the hospitals where they worked as nurses. Her grandmother, who shaped national health policies in the Philippines, was particularly inspiring. “I knew I needed to go into a field where I could make a difference,” Nagtalon-Ramos NUR’01 says.

Now associate director of the Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Program at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Nagtalon-Ramos, a national expert on women’s health, is expanding cultural diversity and sensitivity through education. After finding that few textbooks addressed comprehensive care for diverse patient populations, she wrote an award-winning book, Maternal-Newborn Nursing Care: Best Evidence-Based Practices (F.A. Davis Company, 2013).

In 2015, Nagtalon-Ramos addressed a puzzling imbalance: the absence of Filipino nurse leaders in academics, despite high Filipino representation in the nursing workforce. She enrolled in a higher education management program at Penn to conduct research into the gap, interviewing four generations of Filipino and Filipino-American nurses living in 14 states to reveal their barriers to graduate education. A lack of mentorship was frequently mentioned.

“I know how meaningful my mentors are to me,” she says. “To hear it from most of my research participants was like a call to action.” Nagtalon-Ramos then got involved with the Minority Nurse Leadership Initiative, a mentored leadership development program at Rutgers’ School of Nursing.

Since obtaining her doctorate in June, she will be using her research to create more career advancement strategies for Filipino nursing students. “I’m hoping,” she says, “this will lead to more people like me.”