About award: This award, in honor of Sarah Gutknecht, DNP, who was a pillar of excellence in the pediatric community for several decades. She was one of the first students to earn her doctorate in Nursing at the University of Minnesota, faithfully using her skills and her knowledge to serve pediatric patients and their families at Shriner’s Hospital and Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. She was known for her enthusiasm, generosity, love of life and learning, and her ability to inspire. Very few people she encountered walked away without being motivated to do or be better. Her smile was infectious, her energy boundless, and her heart full of compassion. She was often found sitting on the floor in her patient’s rooms, playing, winning them over with her kindness during their visit.
She was an active member on the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board, the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP), the Institute for Pediatric Nursing, the Minnesota International Health Volunteers, and Ready Set Smile. She went on nearly 30 volunteer excursions around the world with Operation Smile and Healing Hands for Haiti, helping provide resources and corrective surgery for patients with disabilities. She won the Distinguished Nurse of the Year Award through the Minnesota March of Dimes, the President’s Award through Minnesota NAPNAP, the Distinguished Alumni Humanitarian Award from the University Of Minnesota School Of Nursing, and the Donna Poe Davis Award for Excellence in Nursing from Operation Smile. She never failed to seize an opportunity to teach or to learn. She was humble, brilliant, and approachable. She stayed at the forefront of pediatric development by participating in research, maintaining involvement in local and national organizations, and serving on the board at the University Of Minnesota Nursing Department.
Her life ended all too quickly on August 24, 2017, following a brave and arduous fight with pancreatic cancer. Her legacy lives on through the lives she touched and the people she inspired. She was passionate about students advancing their education in nursing to promote better outcomes for the pediatric community. She mentored countless students over the years; always-instilling confidence, never leaving them with feelings of inferiority or inadequacy. The “Nurturing the Next Generation Scholarship” was founded in her honor to give students pursuing advanced pediatric nursing degrees the opportunity to augment their education and to connect to the greater pediatric nurse practitioner community by attending the annual NAPNAP Conference. Sarah valued this conference so much that she generously gave of her own time and money to ensure students could afford to attend and to embrace this opportunity. $500 towards attending the in-person conference or to cover the full fee of $200 for the virtual conference. This year the National Conference will take place at Orlando, FL March 10-14, 2021.
Sarah Gutknecht, DNP