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UST Awards $400,000 to Nursing Students

Laraine Guida McIntyre '81 and Sarah LoefflerIn a joyful meeting of scholarship recipients and supporters, more than $400,000 in scholarships were awarded to nursing students during the University of St. Thomas Nursing Scholarship Luncheon on April 22. With about 140 people in attendance in Scanlan Room, the Scholarship Luncheon connected 52 nursing students with the benefactors who made their scholarships possible.

For one nursing junior who wasn’t sure how she was going to pay for nursing school, a $35,000 full-tuition Guida Scholar Award means she can focus on her studies. Sarah Loeffler had turned down a full-tuition college scholarship from the Air Force ROTC at University of Houston because summer commitments conflicted with the Nursing Program, and she ultimately chose nursing.

Loeffler, who started out as a pre-med major and then switched to nursing, said with next year being her fifth year at UST, she was faced with many financial burdens she did not experience in the previous years.

“It was an incredibly difficult decision to turn down the ROTC scholarship at the time, but receiving [the Guida] scholarship has relieved my financial burdens and reassured me that I made the correct choice in continuing my education at UST,” she said.

Scholarships Critical For Nursing Students

Charlotte Hill, Kaitlin Barreda-Pinkerton, Desiree Cotua, Dr. Stratton Hill and Chari HustDr. Poldi Tschirch, dean of the School of Nursing, said scholarships are critical to nursing student success as it is difficult for them to work during the program and they have required coursework in the summer.

“Our students have a demanding curriculum with obligations for classroom, simulation lab and many hours spent in clinical learning,” Tschirch said. “Traditional financial aid packages cover only fall and spring semesters, so nursing students have an extra financial burden.”

More than 19 foundations provided funds for the scholarships, including new contributors: the Vivian L. Smith Foundation, which contributed $50,000 this year, and the Boyd and Evelyn Mullen Foundation, which donated $20,000. 

Christine Ghattas and Odis PeavyReturn donor Odis Peavy gave $60,000, and the O’Quinn Scholarship and Fosters each gave $50,000.

$40,000 in scholarships was awarded in name of Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza.

Students Encouraged by Donor Support

Tschirch said students greatly enjoyed meeting their donors.

“I had students tell me that it meant a great deal to them that persons who did not even know them made an investment in their education,” she said. “It is not only the financial support that is meaningful – the encouragement and the faith in our students that the scholarships represent are very significant to the students.”

The luncheon also recognized the Founders Nursing Society, from which nearly half of the 89 members were present. Founders received a pin and were recognized as inaugural members of the Founders Nursing Society, which supports the School of Nursing.

“The School of Nursing would not be here today without the support we received from the members of the Founders Nursing Society,” Tschirch said. “They provided time, expertise, opportunities to network, as well as financial support.”

UST School of Nursing Provides Holistic Program

Loeffler has an interest in pediatric and flight nursing but says she is also highly interest in public health. With a focus on holistic care, she said the program guides her in the art of healing the whole person, including the mind, body and spirit.

“My drive to become a nurse stems from my passion for healing,” Loeffler said. “The UST nursing program is definitely one of a kind, and I have had many opportunities throughout the program to grow as a student nurse, utilize my leadership abilities and develop meaningful relationships with my peers as well as the School of Nursing faculty and staff.”

As the School of Nursing graduates its first cohort in May, after a 25 year hiatus, scholarship support from generous donors means more students can continue to benefit from a University of St. Thomas nursing education. 

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