Joy Abounds at Inaugural Donor & Scholar Recognition Luncheon

Steve speaking to luncheon participantsOn Sunday, April 23, UIC Nursing scholarship donors and the students who benefit from their gifts had the opportunity to meet in person at the college's inaugural Donor & Scholar Recognition Luncheon.  [more photos below]

During the event, hosted at the Chicago Campus, donors got to see firsthand the impact they've had on the lives of students, and students had the chance to thank donors and articulate how critical the scholarships have been in their educational pursuits. Fifty-five students received scholarship awards totaling more than $400,000 in the 2016-17 academic year.

UIC College of Nursing Dean Terri Weaver hosted the event, attended by more than 100 guests. Addressing the scholarship recipients, she said, “You are students whose determination to reach higher, to exceed expectations, has brought you to the UIC College of Nursing and to this moment of recognition today. We are incredibly proud of you.”

Guests also heard from Thomas McClure, a first-year undergraduate student at the college’s Springfield Regional Campus and a recipient of the Memorial Health System Scholarship. McClure shared that he found his passion for emergency medicine while serving as a combat medic in the U.S. Army.

“Medic school made me realize how good helping someone can make you feel,” he told the guests assembled. “Actually deploying as a medic made me realize I had so much left to learn.”

After his service, McClure sought to enroll in Illinois’ best public BSN program. He and his wife, Morgan, had been wanting to move from their home in Chicago to a smaller town, and his enrollment at our Springfield campus allowed him to do just that. Unfortunately, they couldn’t afford for Morgan to leave her job and join him right away.

“This scholarship helped me to not only pay for my books and [tuition], but helped me to afford housing while my wife and I are apart,” said McClure.

The audience was also moved, some to tears, by remarks from Kathleen Kobler, '08 MS, who is finishing her PhD this year with the help of multiple scholarships. She recounted her more than 30 years caring for infants and children with serious and terminal illnesses, currently as the APN coordinator for the Pediatric Palliative and Center for Fetal Care Programs at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, IL. A nationally recognized advocate for the growth of perinatal and pediatric palliative care, Kobler was honored earlier this year with the Distinguished Career Achievement Award from the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association.

In her remarks, Kobler revealed that she is also the mother of six children. Balancing life, work and school to earn her master’s degree in 2008 seemed all she could do, but at her MS graduation ceremony, she said, “my husband leaned in and whispered to me, ‘You’re not done yet.’” She began her doctoral study shortly thereafter, focusing her research on addressing the personal suffering experienced by nurses caring for dying children.

The attendees also heard from donor Laurel Owen, '80 BSN, who has endowed the Owen Graduate Nursing Scholarship in tribute to her parents.

"I remember the burdens of being a mother, a graduate student and a full-time nurse at the same time," said Owen. "Listening to [Owen Scholarship recipient] Karen Beagles’ aspirations, along with her realities, reinforced the benefits of a little help for this very typical, very busy nursing graduate student."

Owen remarked that she never imagined she could endow a scholarship before she took a meeting with a UIC Advancement officer, who helped her see a path to building an endowment that fit her goals and her budget.

"I left the [Donor & Scholar] luncheon hoping that other nurses might consider their own families' legacy scholarships,” she added. “Fulfilling my pledge wasn't that hard, and it didn't take that long,"

Owen is now retired from an accomplished career in nursing, most recently as clinical lead for the Chemical Dependence Recovery Program at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital, and as adjunct professor of nursing at Azusa Pacific University, both in San Diego.

Smiles, hugs and laughter abounded throughout the event, which also included conferral of recognition certificates to each of the scholarship recipients. There was a palpable sentiment in the air, articulated by Dean Weaver in her remarks.

“Financial support is instrumental in letting us attract and support the high caliber students here today,” said Weaver. “And equally important is the moral support our students feel when they understand there are people in the world who share their personal wealth with others whom they don’t even know.”

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