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September 25, 2007
A new fund established by the East Carolina University School of Nursing and ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation will help nursing students with financial crises.
Acting Dean Dr. Sylvia Brown recently started the Dean's Gift by donating $10 in the name of each first semester nursing student to establish an emergency needs fund in the school. The goal is two-fold. Grants will be available to assist students during times of financial hardship, while the school develops a philanthropic environment to introduce and encourage a lifetime of giving by students. With 130 new nursing students this fall, the fund totals $1,300.
"This is an innovative way to meet an immediate emergency need while looking ahead to create a sustainable trend of giving back among our graduates," Brown said. "We will develop student loyalty to this fund through transparency and frequent updates to the students regarding the types of emergencies that are funded. When they graduate in two years, they will want to contribute in order to offset emergency needs encountered by future students."
Erika W. Best, president of the East Carolina Association of Nursing Students, said the fund is greatly needed because nursing students, besides typical costs for books and student fees, also pay for uniforms, stethoscopes and other fees and transportation to and from clinical sites. When a financial emergency arises, it quickly can become a crisis and interfere with learning.
"This fund is the nursing school's way of reaching their hand out to a student in need and pulling them up," said Best, 24, of Goldsboro. "Some students are fortunate to have additional help from family to offset these expenses, but others are self-sufficient and must take care of these on their own. Our course load makes it difficult to hold a job outside of school. For those students who have no other option, this is an increased burden. This fund will be greatly beneficial to those students that are working hard for their success and need a helping hand."
The inaugural dean's gift was announced at the Lamp of Learning pinning ceremony held Sept. 20 for first semester nursing students.
Mark Alexander, director of development for the School of Nursing in the ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation, said the gift will encourage nursing alumni to give back to their school following graduation.
"The emergency relief fund is a project that directly effects and supports all of us. We will be able to reap the benefits of this project now and by doing so we should be encouraged to give back so that other students will have the same benefits in the future," Best said. University leaders anticipate that other colleges will follow suit in establishing a similar annual dean's gift, Alexander said.