$1,000 Scholarship

Earning a perfect 4.0 grade point average in her nursing prerequisite courses is an impressive enough achievement all by itself. But that’s just the beginning of what makes Erica Lee, a student in UCSF’s Master’s Entry Program in Nursing, such an extraordinary scholar. Add in her strong research, patient education and community outreach skills and her exceptional commitment to improving health care in minority communities and it’s easy to see what brought her to MN‘s scholarship winner’s circle. After graduating from Scripps College in 2003 with a dual B.A. in psychology and Asian American studies, Erica worked for three years as an HIV/AIDS counselor and health educator at a community-based non-profit organization serving at-risk Asian immigrant youth. Her responsibilities ranged from HIV testing and giving community presentations on HIV prevention to coordinating a peer education teen theater troupe. She also spent a summer working for San Francisco’s Aim High Summer Enrichment Program, where she taught health seminars to at-risk eighth grade students.

In addition, Erica brings a solid research background to her nursing studies. As a Psychology Department research assistant at Scripps, she helped design a study investigating ethnic identity and interracial stress among school-aged children. She also worked on a research project that examined cognitive differences between young people and elders and she spent a study-abroad semester in Milan, Italy.

Erica’s goals for her nursing career include becoming an advanced practice pediatric nurse. “I would initially like to work at a clinic that offers both on-site and outreach care to children and families from underserved populations,” she says. “In this way I can use my training to provide individualized, culturally competent care that focuses on prevention, wellness and patient education.”

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Samuel Merritt College

$1,000 Scholarship

What do peanut butter and jelly sandwiches have to do with Anna Rios-Smith being selected to receive a Minority Nurse Magazine Scholarship? The answer is: They symbolize this outstanding nursing student’s unique commitment to not just participating in community service programs but initiating them.

It all began one recent Thanksgiving when Anna and her fiancé, Bill Doyle, decided to make a bunch of “PB&Js” and drive around their Oakland, Calif., community handing out the sandwiches to hungry homeless people. Soon Anna and Bill were distributing sandwiches every weekend, along with donated clothing, pillows and blankets. Eventually the couple co-founded their own non-profit organization, Paloma Negra, to provide this service on an ongoing basis, as well as other projects like collecting handmade blankets for donation to terminally ill Bay Area children.

In addition to all this, Anna’s academic excellence has brought her National Dean’s List status as well as induction into Phi Theta Kappa, a scholastic honor society for students attending two-year colleges. This January she began the second part of a 2+2 cooperative nursing program between Mills College in Oakland—where she earned a 3.48 GPA in her pre-nursing courses—and Samuel Merritt College, from which she will graduate with her BSN degree in 2009. While at Mills, she participated in a Kaiser Permanente INROADS internship program for minority students, attended nursing leadership seminars and played a leading role in creating a nursing students’ organization on campus.

Dr. J. Diane Jassawalla, who was Anna’s advisor at Mills College, describes her as “a very dedicated student, eager to learn and determined to make a difference in her community. She is an intelligent, ethical, caring person who is committed to becoming a nurse so she can not only offer health care but also help develop health care alternatives for underserved people of color.” This is clearly reflected in Anna’s plans for the future: She wants to establish a clinic for medically underserved minority women.

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University of Rochester School of Nursing

$500 Scholarship

Rebecca Guidry describes herself as “a very proud member of the United Houma Nation,” a state-recognized Indian tribe based in southern Louisiana. And Rebecca has other things to be proud of as well. Despite growing up in a small, economically disadvantaged rural community that has a 72% illiteracy rate, she has excelled in her nursing prerequisite courses at Nicholls State University and in her first year as a master’s entry student in the University of Rochester (N.Y.) School of Nursing’s Accelerated Master’s Program for Non-Nurses, where she was named a Helene Fuld Scholar in recognition of her academic achievements and leadership potential.

But what Rebecca is undoubtedly most proud of is the exceptional work she has done to improve health care access and quality in her medically underserved tribal community, which is not eligible to receive federal assistance. After earning a bachelor’s degree in management from the University of Louisiana in 1999, she worked with community groups to develop a health care needs assessment and open a culturally appropriate community clinic that provided care to 1,800 patients during its first year.

This experience eventually inspired Rebecca to pursue a career in nursing. “Opening the clinic for my community was one of the most exhilarating moments in my life,” she says, “but after working to establish this successful program, I realized that I wanted to be more involved with patient care. Working directly with patients gives you a whole other level of satisfaction.”

Rebecca is a student member of the National Alaska Native American Indian Nurses Association (NANAINA). She continues to provide community service by participating in the AmeriCorps program and has volunteered as a victims’ assistance counselor for the Rochester Police Department.

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Oregon Health & Science University School of Nursing

$500 Scholarship

Rosemary Nundu Maingi, a senior in OHSU’s BSN degree program, grew up in Kenya “surrounded by human suffering—poverty, famine, disease and natural disasters.” Her experiences of volunteering at a refugee camp in northeastern Kenya and caring for a relative who died of AIDS have instilled in her an unwavering desire to “make a difference in people’s lives, not only by caring but also by being part and parcel of their well-being.”

Nundu, as she is called, is a highly motivated student who has a 3.54 overall GPA and a 4.0 average in her clinical rotations. She speaks six languages, including Spanish and American Sign Language. Nundu is also exceptionally active in community service projects and on-campus organizations. She has helped with relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Katrina and the 2003 Asian tsunami, participated in food drives for the homeless, volunteered at local public health clinics and recently earned disaster response certification from the Emergency Management Institute. “Nundu is a remarkable woman who brings wisdom, compassion and a global view to nursing,” says Donna Markle, OHSU School of Nursing associate professor emeritus. “She is an outstanding student who demonstrates strong critical thinking skills, the ability to readily apply theory to practice and a strong sense of social justice. Nundu enhances her colleagues’ understanding of cultural issues and has made a significant contribution to helping them gain greater cultural awareness. She has a natural ability to provide leadership in nursing.”

What lies ahead for Nundu, who will graduate from her nursing program in June? “My future career plans are to acquire a master’s and later a PhD in nursing [and to work as] a nurse practitioner in community health,” she says. According to Markle, Nundu’s long-term goals “include finding opportunities to return periodically to Africa to help address health care needs in Kenya.”

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