Scholarship winners prove their worth

Pursuing a graduate nursing degree poses many challenges, from finding the right program to fitting classes into busy schedules. But there’s one problem that always seems more common than others: finding a way to pay for it. Luckily, nursing students can obtain financial aid from a number of sources, including scholarships like the AstraZeneca Diversity Scholarships.

“These scholarships provide educational support for minority students, who will be among those in the profession meeting the public demand for culturally relevant care,” says Phyllis Zimmer, President of Nurse Practitioner Healthcare Foundation, the nonprofit agency that coordinated the scholarships. Each winner received a $4,000 award to fund her graduate nurse practitioner education. With unique backgrounds and admirable accomplishments, they represent a promising future in nursing.

Juliet T. Chandler, R.N., F.N.P.-C, J.D., Ph.D.(c)

Seaside, California

Born in the Philippines and raised in Saigon until she moved to the United States as a 10 year old, Chandler’s days are full of volunteer and professional endeavors aimed at lessening the toll diabetes takes on low-income populations.

Chandler works as a diabetes educator and public health nurse, and she serves as preceptor for several colleges and universities. Yet, she also finds time to volunteer at the Diabetes Free Clinic of Rotacare, International, providing care to the uninsured. Chandler’s work has her coordinating diabetes and hypertension screening events throughout the Monterey Peninsula area for the area’s most disenfranchised and impoverished.

After working with undocumented Latino immigrants, Chandler found herself struck by the problems they face, so she returned to school and earned a law degree to become better prepared to advocate for migrant workers. She hopes to provide higher quality, more accessible care to population. She is currently working toward her Ph.D. in nursing, with a focus on health policy, at the University of California, San Francisco.

“There is a dearth of Filipina nurse practitioners pursuing their Ph.D,” Chandler says. “Allowing me to attain my doctorate will help correct this existing professional disparity. In addition, it will allow me, through my research, to address another disparity–i.e., the lack of health care access among a vulnerable group of immigrants. I am currently studying the care-seeking experiences of undocumented Latina immigrants with chronic disease, but with limited access to health care. The award will allow me to finish my research. By it I hope to fill a large gap in the research literature. But, more importantly I hope to make the stories and voices of these marginalized women heard.”

Marcia M. Harris, M.S., F.N.P.

Cedar Hill, Texas

A family nurse practitioner in a Special Needs Offender Program in Dallas, Texas, Harris also began her career in a lower-income neighborhood. There, she saw the gross deficiencies in primary care and mental health services. She was inspired to pursue an education in psychiatric/mental health at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Her post-master’s work will help her provide better care to the underserved patients she encounters, primarily an ethnically diverse population. Harris also donates her time as a tutor in the FAME Mentor program and as a volunteer at neighborhood health care screenings and events.

“Receiving the scholarship has helped me to continue my career in nursing and achieve my goals,” Harris says. “In these tough economic times, it was great to know that nursing organizations are still trying to assist in funding our education. I am so grateful for the award.”

Jacqueline E. Higuera, B.S.N., R.N.

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Higuera experience stretches from occupational health to labor and delivery to teaching at the Universidad de Ciencias Aplicadas Y Ambientales in Bogota, Colombia. A native of Colombia, she also studied nursing there, obtaining her undergraduate degree before coming to the United States. (She also holds certification in occupational and environmental health from studies in Spain.)

Higuera is currently working toward her Master of Science in Nursing in the Adult Nurse Practitioner track at the University of Michigan. Her volunteer experience includes various Universities activities, such as the annual Gandhi Day of Service in Detroit. Higuera plans to work primarily with women from underserved Hispanic and African American communities. She hopes to improve their health care knowledge and decision-making skills.

“Thank you to the NPHF for this award that means a recognition to my potential and is an important support in the achievement of my professional goals.”

For more information about the Nurse Practitioner Healthcare Foundation, visit