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UST Nursing Awards 54 Scholarships

By Bridget Hardy, University of St. Thomas
June 24th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Marco Gutiérrez makes sure his children finish their homework, have dinner and are in bed at a reasonable time - then he starts studying. Gutierrez is in his senior year in the University of St. Thomas School of Nursing program, and he is one of 54 students who were awarded a total of $324,688 at the Nursing Scholarship Luncheon in April. For students like Gutiérrez, scholarships can make a big difference.

"Not only does it help with books and tuition, it also gives ease and allows me to concentrate on school and not on what my family needs for everyday living," Gutiérrez said. "Words cannot express enough what this scholarship means."
 
Gutiérrez was the keynote speaker at the event, and was one of 18 students who received funds from Harriet and Joe Foster, who have donated $350,000 over the past two years to scholarships for UST nursing students who have transferred from Houston Community College - a gift that honors the Fosters' interest in both schools. Most students receive $10,000 over a two-year period. Gutiérrez shared his story about his children, focusing on his daughter, who was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy when she was 3 years old.
 
"She is one of the lucky ones because she is still walking, but any fall or physical injury can change that in a blink of a second," he said. "Not knowing enough about this condition and waiting for a year for a diagnosis made it a difficult journey. This was my main reason for wanting to go into nursing - I want to be able to take care of my daughter if need be."

In 2008, St. Thomas began its initial planning phase to reopen the School of Nursing to address the growing shortage of nurses nationwide. Dr. Poldi Tschirch, dean of the School of Nursing, said the program is continuing to grow as 33 students in the second cohort began classes to start the 2013 summer term.
 
"This is our second class," Tschirch said. "Nearly all of them received a nursing scholarship. This funding is essential to our students. The majority of these students have significant financial need, and the demands of the program make it difficult to work while they are taking nursing courses. This scholarship assistance plays a significant role in helping them succeed in the program."
 
Gutiérrez said the nursing program was started at a time when he was looking for guidance after his daughter was diagnosed.
 
"It was God sent, and the scholarships I have received have been the icing on the cake," he said. "I will be a first-generation graduate and the Fosters have made this accomplishment attainable. They have assisted me in changing my family tree."
 
From Brownsville, Texas, but a Houstonian since 1988, Gutiérrez takes his role as a father of two children, an 11-year-old boy and 7-year-old girl, a husband and a provider for his family seriously. He has worked as an EMT for 13 years and his wife, Dyla, works for and graduated from UST in May 2013.
 
"My wife and I do whatever it takes to be a positive influence on our children," he said. "They give me the strength to continue so that I can give them what they need to be successful in life."
 
Also, several UST students received Healthcare and Nursing Education Foundation Nursing Scholarships. Recipients are Evelin Umanzor, Andrea Landaeta, Oscar Obrien, Andrea Uzcategui, Paloma Salazar, Jacqueline Rivas, Falon Hopkins, Ingry Umanzor, Laura Guitierrez,  Juanita Hardy and Sandra Efraimson.
 
See a full list of scholarship recipients in the story on the UST website.

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