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School of Nursing will put $2.2 million grant to use by creating equity program

The School of Nursing at Western Carolina University has received a $2.2 million grant from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration to provide financial and academic support for nursing students from low-income, first generation and minority backgrounds to enhance classroom and workforce diversity.

The funding will create a four-year Pathways to Equity in Nursing program, which will provide scholarship and stipend support for up to 25 students per year. Applications are now being accepted.

“We are thrilled to be able to provide this level of support for learners to help promote their success in being admitted to, and completing their undergraduate degree in nursing at WCU,” said Kae Livsey, an associate professor serving as the program lead. In addition to financial support, participating students will receive dedicated advising, tutoring, mentoring and coaching support, she said.

Pathways to Equity in Nursing also will work to create a sense of community and support. The Medical Careers and Technology Academy – or MedCAT – will work with high school students throughout Western North Carolina in a summer pipeline program at WCU to inform them about careers in health and biomedical sciences, while giving their teachers new tools to motivate and excite them about science and math.

“This program and its outcomes will be monumental for this region,” said Terri Durbin, an associate professor in the College of Health and Human Sciences and the director of the School of Nursing. “To draw nursing students from underserved communities, provide them the support to succeed, and then see them as career professionals working in health care in those very same communities is congruent with the mission of Western Carolina University’s School of Nursing. The HRSA support of $2.2 million shows a confidence in this university, the School of Nursing and the many regional partners to come together for the best for local health care needs.” 

Along with the student support components of the program, the School of Nursing is receiving technical assistance from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing to explore holistic admissions processes.

For more information, go to the WCU PEN webpage or email

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