Selena Giles

Faculty Spotlight

Selena Gilles

Clinical Associate Professor and Associate Dean, NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing

Current research focus

I am known for creating and implementing nontraditional, immersive teaching/learning innovations to address nationally identified nursing education issues and to enhance student learning/program outcomes. I am passionate about the management of acute and chronic pain, opioid overdose prevention, and addiction medicine in underserved communities. Through service and education, I’ve launched effective models that bring under-resourced communities access to healthcare/education, while creating nontraditional, community-based, immersive learning/interprofessional experiences for entry-to-practice and advanced-practice registered nursing students. My innovations enhance health professions curricula with local/global community-based experiences, fill international gaps, and prepare nurses to gain essential competencies across cultures and practice settings.

Favorite course to teach

I am very passionate about global and community health. I have been fortunate to be able to combine my passion for health with my excitement for nursing education. As HEAL Haiti’s Education Committee Co-Chair, I co-created their “Preparing, Reaching, and Educating Providers” (PREP) curriculum to address < 40% licensure pass rates among new Saint-Marc region nurses. For the last three years, I have been a volunteer associate professor for the State University of Haiti, teaching virtually in their masters program. This work led me to engage Meyers students in global health, when I co-developed an undergraduate study-away global nursing course, launched in 2023 in Accra, Ghana. The 10-day immersive course was designed to provide students with an introduction to global nursing practice in the context of global health and global health competencies. While immersed in Ghana, students examined the major causes of morbidity and mortality and their variations among high-, middle-, and low-income regions, and the impact of public health efforts to achieve health equity.

On receiving the Teaching for Social Change award

Receiving the Nia Award for Teaching for Social Change from the Center for Multicultural Education and Programs was an incredibly humbling and affirming experience. It felt profoundly rewarding to be recognized for my efforts in fostering social change through education. The acknowledgment of my work not only validated my dedication to promoting equity and justice, but also inspired me to continue striving for positive impact in the lives of my students and the broader community. This award reinforced the importance of education as a powerful tool for social transformation and motivated me to further commit to this crucial work.

Selena Giles handing out free school supplies at a community event in the Bronx

Selena led a nurse practitioner–run COVID vaccine site in 2021 in a community church in Queens, NY, where Meyers nursing students served as vaccinators and provided health education. 

Influential mentors

I have been fortunate to have so many mentors in my life who have truly guided me, supported me, and helped me to grow. They have been deeply committed to their fields and causes, demonstrating unwavering passion and dedication in their work. They possess a wealth of knowledge and expertise, offering valuable insights and guidance. They show genuine empathy and compassion, offer support and encouragement, and foster a nurturing environment for growth. They believe in my potential and actively encourage me to pursue my goals. They empower me and provide opportunities and resources. They demonstrate resilience and perseverance in the face of challenges and setbacks. This enthusiasm is contagious and has inspired me to not only strive for excellence, but to pay it forward.

A living or historical person I’d like to meet

My favorite Maya Angelou quote has always been: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I use this quote often to guide my personal and professional life. I would have liked to meet Dr. Angelou because of her profound impact as a writer, poet, and civil rights activist. Her ability to capture the complexities of the human experience with such grace and power is deeply inspiring. Her works, like “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” have provided immense insight into themes of identity, resilience, and social justice. Meeting her would provide an opportunity to learn from her vast experiences and wisdom firsthand. Her journey of overcoming adversity and using her voice to advocate for equality and human rights is incredibly motivating. Engaging with someone who has influenced so many through her words and actions would be an unparalleled experience, offering valuable lessons on courage, empathy, and the transformative power of storytelling.

What I’d do for work if I couldn’t work in academics

I truly believe that if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. If I didn’t work in academia, I would be a global health nurse. Volunteering with multiple international organizations as a nurse practitioner, I provide culturally appropriate care, educate local health professionals, and mentor student nurses during immersive global health experiences. As a volunteer nurse practitioner, I have immersed nursing students in seven international medical missions promoting health equity in Haiti, Ghana, and Nigeria. These experiences have been extremely rewarding.

Selena Giles volunteering as a Nurse Practitioner on a medical mission in a rural village in Ghana

I truly believe that if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life