Kathleen LaPorte (B.S.N. ’91) knows that when it comes to patient treatment, every second matters—especially when dealing with end-of-life care.

After receiving her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) at the University of Central Florida, Kathleen ultimately moved on to work for VITAS, a company specializing in Hospice care. Now, in order to enable more UCF nursing students to effectively serve in the growing program, VITAS has partnered with UCF to create the Innovative Hospice Care Endowed Scholarship.

“One of the things that VITAS is committed to is giving back, and we recognize that UCF has been a strong presence in three communities,” LaPorte said, noting that the scholarship will equally go to UCF students at the Daytona, Cocoa and Orlando campuses—something she says is truly unique. “We really feel it’s important as health care professionals to ensure that we help to grow good, strong nurses and UCF has a great reputation for that.”

VITAS has committed over $100,000 to be distributed to multiple recipients over the next five years—a gift the College of Nursing feels exceptionally grateful for. With this kind of incentive, LaPorte hopes that it will encourage students to further consider Hospice as a possible path in their nursing careers.

“We hope the students utilize this scholarship to certainly support them in their growth in this career, but we also hope for them to use Hospice as an avenue,” LaPorte said. “We hope to put that knowledge in the forefront of their minds and let them know what’s out there for their patients and their families.”

“End-of-life care is extremely important for our current and future College of Nursing students. The population of the United States is aging, and the odds of living longer are greater,” said Dr. Jean D’Meza Leuner, dean of UCF’s College of Nursing. She also stated that as U.S. demographics shift and longevity increases, the need for nurses in programs like Hospice becomes greater. Dean Leuner added, the VITAS scholarship “helps underscore this importance and recognizes the college’s current and future commitment to end-of-life care.”