Students Compete for Funding to Work in Diverse Communities
Like many universities and colleges, the challenge of recruiting, retaining and graduating a sufficient number of qualified students to meet the demands of the healthcare workforce can at times be difficult. A significant aspect of this challenge is achieving a racially and culturally diverse student mix that parallels the patient population in California. Another concern of students is the ability to fund their education, and this is even more critical if the students are economically disadvantaged.
There are organizations and associations who are making a difference by representing a multifaceted group of healthcare individuals who want to make a significant change and provide care to diverse communities. And Samuel Merritt University students are taking quick notice. Individual students are approaching these organizations and volunteering time to work in the communities. In turn, the students not only pick up valuable experience and networking opportunities, many are also given scholarships. The scholarships are designed to produce a diverse group of graduates with the competencies to deliver cost-effective, culturally appropriate, quality care to all patients.
Michelle Edwards, nursing student in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, became the first SMU student to receive the Bay Area Black Nursing Scholarship. The Holy Names University transfer student has always been proactive. For example, she set up the first Nursing Club at Holy Names.
"I applied to the Bay Area Black Nursing Association because I believe in the organization," says Edwards. "They offer tutoring and support, many of the members are public health nurses, and they are very active in the community. Without their support I would not be able to afford to buy my books."
This October Entry-Level MS-FNP student, Shana Brye, RN, became the first SMU student to receive a scholarship from the Sacramento Black Nurse's Association. The SBNA was organized in 1978 by nurses who believed the needs to the black community in Sacramento County were not being addressed.
Brye, an FNP at the Sacramento Regional Learning Center, says she has always been interested in health disparities, and respects the mission of SBNA, Inc. "The scholarship recipients are from diverse backgrounds. The goal is to foster and promote nursing education while giving back to the community at the same time. Each year SBNA makes several requests via the local Sacramento nursing schools, and generally only a handful of students apply."
Some minority scholarships have certain criteria other than just diversity such as previous healthcare education, GPA (undergraduate and graduate), GRE scores, number of years of clinical and critical care experience, three references and a personal statement. Some even include a personal interview with faculty. For Brye, the requirements were that she would have to sign up as a member of the association and do community service with the organization in and around Sacramento.
"Scholarship recipients represent various cultural backgrounds, not just African-American," explains Brye. One of the purposes of the scholarship is to attract student members that can grow with the organization and continue serving the community for years to come."
"I cannot begin to stress the importance of applying for minority scholarships," explains Mary Robinson, Director of Financial Aid. "This past year funding was given to six new Health Professions Scholarship recipients as well as five new Hispanic Scholarship recipients. These were significant monetary awards resulting in over $100,000 to our students."
To learn more about minority scholarship opportunities log onto the Samuel Merritt University Financial Aid webpage. There is a direct link to the California Health Professions Education Foundation which administers a variety of scholarships programs.
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