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UIC Nursing awards half a million in scholarships to diversify nursing workforce


90 UIC Nursing students awarded scholarships over $5,000 each for 2021-22 academic year Heading link

More than half a million dollars in scholarships were awarded to 90 UIC Nursing students this academic year through two Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) grants intended to diversify the nursing workforce.

“The grants fund two programs that aim to expand and support our nursing workforce, including students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and equip them with the tools to provide high-quality, culturally aligned care to rural and underserved urban communities in need,” says clinical assistant professor Kelly Rosenberger, DNP ’12, CNM, WHNP-BC, FAANP, director of the UIC Nursing-Rockford campus.

Rosenberger and clinical professor Valerie Gruss, PhD, APRN, CNP-BC, FAAN, are project directors on the two grant programs, INSPIRE and EDGE.

INSPIRE grant focuses on underserved communities

INcreaSing Program DIveRsity for NursEs (INSPIRE), is a four-year, $2.2 million grant intended to recruit, support and train diverse students across all six UIC Nursing campuses for work in underserved urban and rural communities.

Fifty UIC Nursing students were awarded $6,000 scholarships. Through the program, they will be assigned faculty mentors, receive peer student support, be placed in clinical settings relevant to rural and underserved urban communities, and have an opportunity to receive certification in telehealth through the American Board of Telehealth.

Marion Tan, BSN ’17, RN, a DNP student in the Family Nurse Practitioner program on the Rockford campus, says he is “beyond honored” to receive one of the INSPIRE scholarships. He is currently an ICU nurse at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Illinois, and hopes to work as a primary care provider in a federally qualified health center after he graduates.

“In the last three years of my DNP program, I have had to work full time, and now, with the financial assistance of this scholarship, I am able to better balance my school, work and home life,” he says. “I am excited to learn so much from my fellow cohort and mentors, and I hope to inspire others to embrace their diversity.”


Freddy Lucena

Geriatric nursing focus of EDGE grant

Enhancing Diversity in Geriatric Nursing (EDGE) is a one year, $362,335 grant to create and implement an Integrated Geriatric Nurse Training Scholarship Program for diverse UIC Nursing students.

Forty students, each awarded a $5,300 scholarship, will participate in didactic geriatric training through training modules, receive clinical placements specific to the complex needs of older patients, and will also gain access to telehealth certification.

“The older population is growing enormously, and the number of trained nurses, physicians and other health professionals has not kept pace,” Gruss says. “We really need to train our nurses and healthcare professionals more specifically on the older population and how different it is to manage older adults.”

Freddy Lucena, a bachelor’s degree student on the Chicago campus, immigrated to Chicago from Caracas, Venezuela, in 2016 at the age of 23 to escape political, social and economic unrest. When he arrived in Chicago, he spoke no English and had no economic support.

“I also came out as gay when I was 16 years old, and it was initially difficult for me,” he says. “I felt discriminated against, and sometimes I even felt unsafe in my own neighborhood.”

Lucena says friends and family are now accepting of him, and he’ll be able to bring these diverse experiences to bear in his care and practice as a nurse. He has already received a job offer to work in a hospital pulmonary unit upon graduation, where he will be able to apply his geriatric training.

“I came here with nothing,” he says. “When I was selected for this program, it meant a lot to me. It showed me that, no matter how hard your path is, dreams can come true. The EDGE scholarship not only represents financial help, it symbolizes the appreciation of my hard work as a student during many years, and for that I am thankful.”