The UCF College of Nursing awarded more than $142,600 in scholarship aid for the 2013-2014 academic year thanks to the generous support of donors. The college honored its donors and 64 scholarship recipients at an appreciation luncheon on Tuesday, Mar. 18 at the Fairwinds Alumni Center. Of the 64 scholarship recipients, 28 students received more than one scholarship.

“We are very thankful for the support we receive from the community in providing scholarships for our nursing students,” said Mary Lou Sole, interim dean of the UCF College of Nursing.

Katie Korkosz, director of development for the UCF College of Nursing, says scholarships are a funding priority for the college, and assist students with their tuition and educational expenses. “Many nursing students are not able to work during the program due to the rigorous curriculum, so scholarship support is critical and helps us recruit the best and brightest students.”

Two scholarship recipients spoke at the luncheon expressing their appreciation for the philanthropic gifts they received.

Born in Germany, Iris Appenrodt, a senior nursing student who received two scholarships, spoke about the many obstacles she had to overcome to reach the nursing program and her financial struggles along the way. “When I was notified about the scholarships, I was trying to figure out how to pay for the spring semester and my upcoming graduation. Words cannot express the gratitude I feel for this generous contribution.”

After she passes her nursing board exam, Appenrodt will start a full-time job at the Orlando VA where she has spent the past year participating in their Veterans Affairs Learning Opportunity Residency (VALOR) program. She is very passionate about her work with veterans and added, “I am a naturalized U.S. citizen, so to me, being a VA nurse gives me the opportunity to embrace my chosen country and the veterans who make it possible for me to be here.”

A proud mom of two grown children, Libby Gersbach said, “I am not sure that the words ‘thank you’ are enough to adequately express my heartfelt gratitude for the donors. Their generosity has helped me achieve my goals and pursue the career of my dreams.”

Gersbach, also a senior nursing student and the recipient of two scholarships, said she put her family first before finally embarking on her desired nursing degree. “My son graduated from Midwestern University with his Pharm D last spring and my daughter is finishing her third year of law school,” she said. “She will be sitting for her bar exam this summer around the same time that I will be taking my nursing board exam.”

In conclusion, Gersbach addressed her fellow scholarship recipients and challenged them. “Perhaps each of us can best express our thanks by giving back to the community as a nurse and being a mentor for nursing students in the future.”

This year, six new scholarships were established in the UCF College of Nursing, totaling $31,400 in additional aid to undergraduate and graduate nursing students. The six new scholarships include: The DNP Research Fund established by Drs. Tony and Julee Waldrop, the David and Ania Hanke Endowed Fund for Global Health Outreach established by UCF nursing alumnus David Hanke and his wife Ania, The Moore Family Endowed Scholarship established by UCF alumnus Mark Moore and his wife Lisa, the Laura Flannery Memorial Endowed Nursing Scholarship established in honor of Laura Flannery, the Ida Kinsley Memorial Endowed Nursing Scholarship established by UCF alumna Dr. Kate Kinsley and her husband Joseph, and the Samuel Realista Nursing Scholarship established by UCF alumnus Dr. Sam Realista.

“I’m happy to give back to UCF by establishing a new scholarship opportunity for UCF nursing students,” Realista said. “I hope this scholarship provides some peace of mind for future nurses and allows them to focus on their studies and become the best nurse they can be.”