Alumni National Awards

College of Nursing Award Recipients


CastnerJessica Spencer Castner, Nurs '99

Grand Island, N.Y.

Two of Jessica’s fondest Marquette memories center around the heart of campus at St. Joan of Arc Chapel. One is packing a lunch on a nice day and studying with friends in the gardens outside of the chapel. Another she recalled was a Tuesday evening Mass where Rev. John Naus, S.J., was presiding and delivered a moving homily about humanitarianism and love.

Jessica credits Marquette and the Bradley family, who supplied her scholarship, for changing her life and career trajectory. Not only did she meet her husband, Brian, Eng ’99, during her time on campus, but the mission and values instilled at Marquette have continued to resonate with her.

As a health scientist, Jessica’s work has evolved from a hospital setting into the community in order to understand the health effects of energy and transportation policies and choices. “I recalibrated my short- and long-term professional plans in response to witnessing the military sacrifices my friends and family made in the Middle-East wars. Working for anything less than a future where we no longer rely on fossil fuels seems unworthy of their sacrifices,” she says.

By studying chemical exposures in occupational, home and community settings, her hope is that this research will inform future long-term innovations in technology and policy solutions.

“To me, success is making contributions of value and impact that can improve or change human health and well-being. It involves a mix of finding deep personal meaning, overcoming obstacles, staying hungry for more and contributing to a greater good,” she says. “Marquette introduced me to contemporary and historic pioneers who exemplified standing for social justice despite tremendous barriers, nonconformity and resisted group-think, and were led by redefining success.”

Fun fact:
Jessica’s family is the subject of a new opera, The Long Walk, which was adapted from her husband’s memoir. She has enjoyed the experience of hanging out with opera stars, getting to know the different job roles and functions that goes into a production, and being exposed to the opera culture.