“Scholarship support is critical to our students and our program,” says Dr. Mary Lou Sole, interim dean at the UCF College of Nursing. “Due to the rigorous curriculum, it is difficult for many students to work. Scholarships not only recognize these hard-working individuals, but also allow us to attract the best and brightest students to our programs. Additionally, students with a prior bachelor’s degree are ineligible for many types of federal aid, so the need for private support is especially great for these types of students.”

The scholarship recipients had an average GPA of 3.8, and each is involved in community service and professional organizations. Among those recognized was Brooke Wonderly, an Orlando native and senior undergraduate student who is active in the Student Nurses Association board as the Breakthrough in Nursing Officer and recently inducted into the nursing honor society, Sigma Theta Tau International. “UCF really does stand for opportunity,” Brooke says. “This is a challenging major, but it is because of the continuous support we receive – from donors and amazing professors – that we are able to conquer each challenge that comes our way. I know that I will leave here equipped to be a leader and strong advocate for patients.”

Another scholarship recipient was Sotos Djiovanis, a student in the second-degree program who decided to pursue his BSN in his 30s after a highly successful career as a professional musician. “There are many students who simply wouldn’t be able to go to nursing school without the generosity of donors,” Sotos says. “Supporting nursing educations is absolutely having an impact right here in our backyards. Your UCF Knight nursing student today is often your Orlando area RN, nurse practitioner, nurse educator, or nurse manager tomorrow.”

Katie Korkosz, director of development for the UCF College of Nursing, says, “Student scholarships would not be possible without the generous support of our donors whose philanthropic support positively impacts the lives of future nurse leaders, such as Brooke and Sotos. We are incredibly grateful for their ongoing commitment to our program and students.”

The scholarships were presented at the annual scholarship luncheon held on April 7. More than 140 guests were in attendance, including alumni, friends of the college, health care community members and many scholarship donors who traveled from near and far to meet their gift recipient.

Two new scholarships were established in the past year and the donors were presented with a special gift at the luncheon. The Judy R. Morter Memorial Lifelong Clinical Nursing Scholarship was established by her family in memory of the pediatric nurse practitioner and long-time adjunct faculty member at the college. The Jacqueline Byers Memorial Endowed Scholarship was endowed by Dr. Rob Byers in memory of Dr. Jacqueline Byers, a long-time nursing professor in the college, and respected author, researcher and health care leader in the Orlando community.