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PEN Scholars Application

July 15th deadline for submission - APPLY TODAY!

The PEN Scholars program provides wrap around support services for students from disadvantaged backgrounds including financial, advising, coaching, tutoring and mentoring support.  Students selected for the PEN Scholars program will have a dedicated faculty advisor and support from a SON academic advisor, who will assess the student’s individuals needs and provide support and referrals for other resources, such as writing, tutoring and other student support services. Financial support is also available for PEN Scholars. PEN Scholars will also be part of a learning community to provide a cohort of support.  PEN Scholars can also receive coaching and mentoring from a holistic nurse coach as well as an assigned nurse mentor.

The WCU School of Nursing is committed to creating a culture that supports the University’s goal of inclusive excellence.  The PEN Scholars program seeks to provide culturally responsive wrap around support services to promote successful admission, progression, and completion of undergraduate nursing degree programs within the School of Nursing to enhance the diversity of the nursing workforce and better care for the communities we serve.   

For disadvantaged students who have been admitted to WCU and are planning to apply to one of our BSN program offerings, the PEN Scholars program will provide specific support services through a dedicated academic and faculty advisor.  Students admitted to the PEN Scholars program will also participate in a learning community to create a cohort of peer support. Through this support, the PEN Scholars program can leverage existing support programs at WCU to improve disadvantaged students’ ability to be successful in being admitted to one of our competitive BSN programs. 

Students from disadvantaged backgrounds accepted to the PEN Scholars program who have been admitted to one or our BSN program offerings also will receive specific academic advising support, engage in virtual learning communities, and have access to peer academic coaches, dedicated faculty advising support, along with support from a nurse mentor during their final year in the nursing program  and during their first year of practice to provide support for participants as they transition from school to practice and enter the nursing workforce.

To be eligible to apply for the PEN Scholars program, you need to be from one of the following backgrounds:

  • Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians (EBCI) or other Native American 
  • First generation college student in your family 
  • Having an annual household income which falls at or below 200% of federal poverty level guidelines.  (200% of FPL for individuals in 2021 is $25,760) 
  • Minority status (by race or ethnicity) 

Admission decisions for the PEN Scholars program are made each Spring semester.  Students may be able to receive support for multiple semesters but must maintain eligibility requirements and reapply each year. Applications are accepted from January 20 to February 15.  Application requirements include an application form and personal essay.
Application Form

The PEN Scholars program uses a holistic admission process.   Program staff review applications for eligibility criteria.  Personal essays, which seek to identify applicants’ experiences and attributes are scored using a rubric by a trained faculty admissions committee.
SCORING RUBRIC used for admission to the PEN Scholars program

The first PEN Scholars application period runs from January 20 to February 15.  Applicants will be notified by March 15 on admissions decisions to the PEN Scholars program.   There will be a fall 2022 application period as well.  Pathways to Equity in Nursing program staff will work with PEN Scholars to arrange financial aid and other stipend support.

If selected as a PEN Scholar, the SON is making a sizeable investment in your success.  To that end, this program is intended to be a partnership, and participants are expected to:

  • Attend monthly meetings with your support team- (Academic Advisor, Mentor, Tutors, Coach)
  • Maintain GPA of 3.0 for at least two consecutive semesters.
  • Participate in one-on-one meetings each semester with the SON Advisor.
  • Commit to not working more than 20 hours per week.
  • Participate in the learning community programming.
  • Meet at least two (2) times per semester with your PEN Scholar Faculty Advisor.

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