Nearly $100,000 in scholarships were awarded this fall to nursing students at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, helping to address the need for nurses across the state and region.
The Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation established the nursing endowment with a $1 million gift five years ago in partnership with the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Department of Nursing.
The endowment is now at $3 million, according to the UALR Office of Alumni and Development.
UALR is the only nursing program in the state with an endowment from the Walker Foundation, according to Ann Bain, interim dean of the College of Science and chair of the nursing department.
This fall, Matthew Burgess, Joanna Hall, Dana Hilliard, and Brook Scalzo each earned a Walker Scholarship for the RN to BSN completion program.
Scalzo was employed with Arkansas Children’s Hospital before she became a registered nurse.
“I am proud to be a student at UALR,” she said. “I am so grateful for this opportunity.”
In addition, Lance Biggers, Leslie Durbin, Lauren Easter, Sonih Jordan, Jason Lewis, Natasha Petitjean, Lauren Schiller, Caroline Stroup, Sarah Tolbert, and Alexandra Trible earned a Walker Foundation Scholarship for their work in the associate’s degree program.
“The department of nursing received more than 80 applications from many qualified candidates making this year’s selection one of the most difficult,” said Bain. “We are fortunate to have the ability to help students progress through school so they can start changing lives.”
In addition to the growth of the BSN program and a new facility, nursing has 45 first-time freshmen in the living learning community program at UALR and has also renewed a clinical partnership with St. Vincent Infirmary.
By 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics projects that job growth for registered nurses is expected to increase 26 percent. RNs will be recruited to fill many positions in various healthcare fields, particularly as an estimated 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 each day in the U.S.