Rutgers nursing student is special guest at NJ Gov. Murphy’s State of the State address

January 10, 2024

Rutgers School of Nursing student Sabrina Charles was literally “in the spotlight” as news cameras and all eyes turned to her during New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s 2024 State of the State Address. Charles, who will graduate in May from the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, was one of First Lady Tammy Murphy’s special guests at the annual address held January 9 at the New Jersey State House in Trenton.

Just 14 individuals, including students, health care professionals, local entrepreneurs, and young leaders were selected for this prestigious invitation. They were invited because they embody the ideals, aspirations, and policy priorities the Governor highlighted in his speech. 

“Phil and I are privileged to be joined by this group of exceptional individuals from across our state,” said First Lady Tammy Murphy. “Each of these New Jerseyans exemplifies the values at the heart of the administration’s work to build a stronger and fairer New Jersey. As we reflect on the past six years and share our vision for the future, we are inspired by the remarkable leadership, courage, and life experiences of these guests and their contributions to our state.” 

Pointing out Charles as she stood up in the Assembly Chamber gallery, Murphy said that his initiatives are “helping address our lingering shortage of critical workers–especially nurses and educators. With us today is Sabrina Charles who I had the great honor of meeting a little while ago who will be graduating from the Rutgers School of Nursing. Sabrina is doing her part to help resolve our nursing shortage and we’re going to keep doing our part to support many others like her who are pursuing a career of service.”

Charles is a senior honors student enrolled in the undergraduate nursing program on the New Brunswick campus. Rutgers School of Nursing, ranked No. 1 in New Jersey and among the top 5 percent in the nation for its bachelor’s programs by U.S. News & World Report, offers BS in Nursing programs in New Brunswick, Newark, and Blackwood, New Jersey.

“We are so honored and proud that Sabrina was invited to represent the future of nursing during the Governor’s address,” said Linda Flynn (PhD, RN, FAAN), dean and professor at Rutgers School of Nursing.” Sabrina is an extraordinarily accomplished nursing student who has contributed greatly to our school and the communities we serve. She is a true exemplar of our motto, Excellence in Action, and I am confident that she will be an outstanding professional nurse.”

From an early age, Charles developed a passion for service that continues to shape her values and nursing ideals. At the State University of New Jersey, she acknowledges the wide-reaching impact nurses have. Her involvement extends outside of the classroom and hospital settings, through her collaborations with local non-profits like the Urban Health Collaborative and the Vaccine Equity Education Coalition to promote health education and address disparities.

Her commitment to service and creating equitable environments is further evident in her active roles within Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Ambassadors of Douglass Residential College, and the Rutgers University Senate. In addition, Charles holds membership in and has received awards from several nursing organizations including the New Jersey League for Nursing, the National Black Nurses Association, and the National Student Nurses Association. In her final semester, she remains committed to expanding her knowledge of health inequities, public health, and health policy. She envisions herself as a catalyst for positive change with aspirations to become a nurse practitioner.

“As we begin our seventh year of partnership, New Jersey stands tall, resilient, and brimming with ambition. But our work is far from finished,” said Governor Murphy. “The special guests joining us at this year’s State of the State Address reflect the ongoing – and highest – priorities of our administration: lowering costs, raising wages, and creating boundless opportunities for every family, especially the next generation of New Jerseyans. Together, we are building a New Jersey that is better today and brighter tomorrow.” 

Charles says she will look back on this experience with delight. “Attending Governor Murphy’s State of State address as a special guest was an unforgettable honor. I’m proud to be a student at the Rutgers School of Nursing and to reside in a state that genuinely values and supports nurses,” she said.

Sabrina Charles was greeted by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy before heading to the Assembly Gallery for the governor’s speech.