CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The College of Nursing and Health Sciences (CONHS) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is now able to give full-ride scholarships to select students thanks to a $649,224 a year grant, which will total $2.6 million over the next four years, from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The college received this grant after Dr. Mary Jane Hamilton, Dean of the CONHS, submitted a 50-page proposal to HRSA.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am about this grant,” said Hamilton. “We often talk about access to care, but this is access to education. The majority of our students are first generation college students, so a grant like this is literally a game changer.”
This grant will provide 71 Disadvantaged Student (SDS) scholarships each year, for the next four years, to full-time students who display financial need. Each of the 284 scholarships will provide the student with $9,144 each year to cover tuition, uniforms, educational materials, clinical supplies and books.
“This grant will ultimately allow students to attend school full-time without worrying about financial costs,” said Hamilton. “Some of them end up living in their cars or on their friends’ couches just so they can continue their education. This is why we work so hard to help ease their financial burden.”
For students receiving the scholarship, it has been a huge blessing.
“I am beyond excited and so grateful for this scholarship,” said Barret Belknap, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing on an accelerated track. “This scholarship has brought me such a sense of relief. Without it, I don’t know how far I would make it this semester.”
This HRSA grant will also allow the CONHS to graduate more registered nurses who will then go on to work in medically underserved areas in the Coastal Bend and fulfill a rapidly expanding community need.
“The Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies has reported that Colleges and Universities are unable to produce sufficient registered nurses (RNs) to meet healthcare demand through the year 2020,” said Hamilton. “Between 2005 and 2020, demand for RNs is expected to have increased by 86 percent and the supply of RNs to increase by only 53 percent. That’s a huge shortage that we’re hoping this grant will help us curb.”
In total, only three out of the 147 universities in Texas received funding for nursing programs through the SDS grant.
“At the beginning of this semester, I was wondering how I was going to pay my rent because I was spending all my money on my books and the other things I needed for nursing school,” said Marivel Hernandez, a first year nursing student. “Because of this scholarship, I feel like a giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I don’t have to worry anymore.”
The CONHS strives to support its students using multiple methods, including retention efforts, academic support and personal support.
“We are not a small school anymore but we work to maintain that small school atmosphere by bringing our faculty and students together on a personal level,” said Hamilton. “We know our students and we become mentors to our students. We work really hard to make sure they’re successful.”