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Lifelong respect for nursing profession leads education alumna to endow scholarship

nursing advancement

Students from underrepresented populations will have the opportunity to study to become health care professionals through a new scholarship fund established by 1970 Western Carolina University graduate Jacqueline Sutherland McInvale.

A lifelong respect for the nursing profession has led a 1970 graduate of Western Carolina University’s elementary education program to create a new scholarship fund that will provide students from underrepresented groups opportunities to become health care professionals.

Jacqueline Sutherland McInvale, a resident of Port Townsend, Washington, is making a series of gifts and pledges totaling $50,000 over a three-year period that will result in awards of $5,000 each in scholarship assistance to two students annually.

Although she graduated from WCU as an elementary education major, McInvale took several different career paths shortly after commencement, finally choosing a sales position in the pharmaceuticals industry.

She worked for 25 years in the pharmaceutical division of Novartis Chemical Co., formerly part of the company known as Ciba-Geigy. For much of that time, she was employed as a “detail person,” providing specifics about medications to doctors and prescribers.

“Over my years of working in various positions with Novartis, I got to know many nurses. These were people who worked hard, earned my respect and tried to perform to the best of their abilities every day,” McInvale said. “Many of them went back into the communities where they grew up to provide access to better health care. My friendship and respect for these nurses is one of the reasons for my offering this nursing scholarship.”

As a woman working in a pharmaceutical industry that consisted primarily of white males when she began her career in 1973, McInvale said she faced numerous challenges in the workplace – especially during her early years of employment.

“I want to offer this scholarship to encourage students who may be members of underrepresented groups in our society. I hope to give them the opportunity to better represent themselves and their backgrounds,” she said.

Through establishing the scholarship fund, McInvale also said she is honoring her mother, Louise Crowell Sutherland. Her mother wanted to go to nursing school after graduating from high school, but was not permitted by her parents to choose that career, instead enrolling in business school to study accounting, she said.

“When I was in my senior year of high school, my mom went back to school to become a nurse. She loved it, and I think she was probably a very good nurse. She became an LPN and decided that was as far as she wanted to go,” McInvale said.

To be considered for the Jacqueline Sutherland McInvale Annual Nursing Scholarship, students must be enrolled in WCU’s School of Nursing and in their junior or senior year of study. The scholarship is designed for residents of North Carolina, with special consideration given to students who are members of groups that are underrepresented at WCU and in the nursing profession.

External support is critical to the ability of the School of Nursing and other programs in WCU’s College of Health and Human Sciences to meet their mission of preparing future generations of health care providers, said Terrica Durbin, director of the School of Nursing.

“Through their contributions and connections, our many alumni, friends and health care profession partners play a critical role in expanding opportunities for students in nursing and other careers across the medical field,” Durbin said.

“We are so incredibly thankful for this financial support from Ms. McInvale, which will help open doors for future students who might not otherwise be able to pursue nursing careers. In today's increasingly diverse society, it is more important than ever for those who provide health care services to come from a variety of different backgrounds,” she said.

McInvale said she is looking forward to the time when WCU students will begin receiving financial support from the new scholarship fund she is creating. To those future scholarship recipients, she sends a sentiment from her mother: “With her words of wisdom, I would encourage you to seek your towers of achievement and never give up what you really want.”

For more information on creating an endowed scholarship fund to help students pursue their higher education goals, contact the WCU Division of Advancement at 828-227-7124 or, or visit the website

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