Scholarship Appreciation Luncheon Celebrates Nursing and Philanthropy at Its Finest

Scholarship Appreciation Luncheon Celebrates Nursing and Philanthropy at Its Finest

There were many reasons why Thursday was a great day at the University of San Diego. Counting the ways was as easy as looking around the Hahn University Center Forums and seeing 40-plus tables with 10 chairs and each one occupied.

Scholarship Luncheon 2019

The 32nd annual USD Scholarship Appreciation Luncheon, an event that brings donors and the students they support together, was succinctly explained by the explanation of one word.

"Philanthropy is a Greek word that means 'love of mankind,'" said Richard P. Woltman, a USD Board of Trustee Emeritus and benefactor of the Richard and Kaye Woltman Endowed Scholarship Fund. "Philanthropy is what helped build this university and it means that (talking to students) someone loved you very much."

Woltman's observation spoke volumes, not just for everyone in the large room, but it connected very well with the event's special spotlighted entity, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science and its adjacent building, the Beyster Institute for Nursing Research.

The Woltmans' support for USD's graduate nursing program, alongside dozens of others who've provided scholarships to aid the compassionate-fueled dreams and careers of male and female students, made for a truly uplifting event.

Nursing School's Beginning, Continuation of Educational Excellence

Nursing Dean and Professor, Jane M. Georges, PhD, RN, spoke passionately about the success of a school that has been on the USD campus since the late Philip Y. Hahn committed an endowment of $1 million in 1973 to establish it. Founded in 1974 with Hahn's generous gift, then President Author E. Hughes and then Provost Sally Furay, RSCJ, were instrumental in bringing Hahn's dream of a nursing school to life. The school's inaugural dean, Irene Palmer, oversaw the development of the nationally-ranked entity through the implementation of cutting-edge graduate nursing programs.

That same dedication continues today. Georges spoke about three areas: the first-of-its-kind Dickinson Nursing Simulation Center, a simulation and standardized patient laboratory that offers a true clinical setting space for students in the Master's Entry Program in Nursing (MEPN), Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Nurse Specialist programs; the school's ability to expand nurse practitioners' scope and reach; and the quality of USD’s faculty and PhD research that is making an impact and promoting a better level of care to ease the pain and reduce the suffering of patients.

Thursday's program not only had Woltman's words of support, but also F. Lynn Blystone, who has been a steady supporter of USD's nursing school as well as the San Diego NROTC program. Both he and his wife, Patti, understand the impact of helping students whose career aspirationis compassionate care.

"Our life experiences have taught my wife, Patti, and me, the value of proficient and compassionate nurses. … The mannequins (used in the simulation center) alone are expensive, but are critical tools in the comprehensive training of nurses who are so appreciated when you are flat on your back in pain and concern. Therefore, as we can, we are gratified to support the outstanding nursing program at USD and know that thousands of patients will benefit."

Nursing Students Share Insights, Appreciation

Three outstanding nursing students at USD — Fabiola Carapia, '08 (BSN), '11 (MSN) and expected ‘20 (DNP), Ritamarie Smedile BSN, MSN-ENL expected '20, RN, and Ellen K. Fleischman PhD '19, MBA, MSN, NE-BC — shared their individual stories on how USD's program contributes to their development, passion and love for nursing.

Carapia, recipient of the Yvonne Carteron Endowed Scholarship, praised the support from faculty and staff and said that she feels blessed to receive a scholarship to support her higher education goals. “My passion is to care for the sick, especially geriatric patients. In the doctoral program, I’m encouraged to make a change in the community and to be a leader. I give back, serving as a preceptor to nurse practitioner students and I volunteer at community events through USD.”

Smedlie is in her first year in USD’s executive nursing leadership program. A native of Philadelphia, her work at two different times with a nonprofit organization, Amigos de Jesus, including one year working at the boys’ orphanage in Honduras as an undergraduate student and most recently as a stateside director at an office in Philadelphia, maintained her passion for nursing. She’s also been a nurse focused on women’s health, including new mothers. “I love my work as a nurse. It energizes me and I really believe it is a sacred duty to accompany these women as they bring new life into this world,” Smedlie said. But her director’s role with Amigos de Jesus opened her eyes to future possibilities and to USD’s leadership degree program. Receiving the Dean’s Graduate Merit Scholarship made coming to USD an easy decision. She’s already working closely with USD faculty and has a research-focused internship, too. “With a full and grateful heart, I say thank you,” she said.

Fleischman was the last student speaker at the luncheon, but also achieved the latest and greatest educational milestone among the three. Fleischman will graduate in May after defending her PhD dissertation just last week. “It’s a big accomplishment for me because it’s been a hard three years, but it has gone by fast,” she said. A research-savvy student, Fleischman developed a keen interest in the stigma associated with women’s depression and anxiety. Working on her research, she recently presented her findings at the Eighth World Congress for Women’s Mental Health conference in Paris. Fleischman expressed her sincere gratitude for scholarships she’s received during her PhD program, namely the Doris A. Howell Foundation Scholarship and the Dean’s Merit Scholarship, that contributed to her research efforts and opportunities as a result.

The luncheon’s closing remarks, delivered by Richard Virgin, vice president for university advancement, reminded everyone in the room about the appreciative bond that emerges through scholarship support.

The university's successfully completed 2018 Leading Change campaign included the creation of new scholarships.

“Scholarships are so vital," Virgin said. "When I see that 233 new scholarships were created during the campaign, I think about lives being changed. I think about the ripple effect. We are all catalysts for change. The students’ stories are part of your legacy and your legacy is a part of theirs.”

— Ryan T. Blystone

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