Andrea Valdez (CNL ’18) is a recipient of a Conway Scholarship for the Clinical Nurse Leader program at UVA.    Photo by Christine Phelan Kueter
Education

Opening Doors for Nursing Students

Conway Scholarships Make Education Accessible

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FOR JANE MUIR (Nurs ’16), pursuing a graduate nursing degree meant making tough decisions. Was she willing to take on student loans that would take years to pay off? Muir knew she wanted to take her nursing education to a new level, but could she handle the cost? 

In July, she opened a letter that changed everything. She learned that she had been awarded a Conway scholarship to pay for her first year at the UVA School of Nursing. 

“It was an immense relief,” says Muir. “One of the biggest stressors for going back to school is figuring out how to pay for it. The scholarship lets me be fully engaged as a student, able to hone in on my studies instead of feeling unbalanced and stressed. It also acknowledges the importance of advanced education to the nursing profession.” 

Muir’s Conway Scholarship is helping her earn her Family Nurse Practitioner certificate and her Doctor of Nursing Practice, both qualifications that are increasingly in demand in today’s healthcare environment. 

Support for these graduate scholarships is the latest in a series of gifts—now totaling $15 million—from Washington, DC-area philanthropists Joanne and Bill Conway. The couple’s first $10 million supports the school’s Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) program, an advanced degree for students from other disciplines. That early Conway support is already funding the education of 110 new CNL nurses, including Andrea Valdez (CNL ’18), who just began a career in labor and delivery at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. 

“The Conway Scholarship was extremely helpful to me,” says Valdez. “Beginning a new job, I don’t have such a big debt burden hanging over me. I see the Conways as investing in a profession that spreads out into the world.” 

The most recent Conway funding supports undergraduate students, with the first recipients just arrived on Grounds this fall. The overall impact of these scholarships will be in reducing student debt, fostering diversity, and motivating new individuals to join the profession. Over the next five years, new Conway scholarships will provide tuition assistance for at least an additional 50 nursing students from across the school’s undergraduate, master’s and post-master’s, and Doctor of Nursing Practice degree programs. 

“There are many ways to impact citizens’ health and wellness,” says UVA School of Nursing Dean Dorrie Fontaine, “but the Conways recognize that supporting nursing students across the board helps us do an even better job of contributing to our nation’s supply of exceptionally prepared nurses. These are truly game-changing gifts, not only for the school, but for the state, the region, and the country.” 

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