Five students earn nursing scholarships

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Lewis University awarded scholarships through RWJF New Careers in Nursing Program

Published: February 24, 2014.

(Left to Right) Basirat Yusuf, Bilaal Hassan, Maureen
Dewan, Ryan Baeten and Marius Zymantas are
the 2014 Lewis University New Careers in
Nursing Scholarship recipients.

Lewis University College of Nursing and Health Professions has been selected as one of 52 schools to receive grant funding from the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program (NCIN). During the 2013-2014 academic year, Lewis University will receive $50,000 to support students in the school’s BAC-BSN program who are traditionally underrepresented in the field of nursing and are pursuing second careers in the field. NCIN is a program of RWJF and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).

“At this time when the nation’s need for highly educated nurses is growing, we are delighted to be able to support nursing students who will bring diverse and valuable perspectives to the field, and become capable, culturally-competent nurses,” said David Krol, MD, MPH, FAAP, RWJF senior program officer. “NCIN is not only helping these students succeed in school, it is helping prepare the nursing workforce to meet the challenges that lie ahead.”

Each NCIN Scholar has already earned a bachelor’s degree in another field, and is making a career switch to nursing through an accelerated nursing degree program, which prepares students to pass the licensure exam required for all registered nurses in as little as 12-18 months.

At Lewis University, five students were awarded NCIN scholarships. Since 2008, the NCIN program has distributed 3,117 scholarships to students at 125 unique schools of nursing. This year, funding for 400 scholarships was granted to 52 schools of nursing.

Jane Trainor, coordinator of the BAC-BSN track, stated that the selection process for the NCIN scholars was competitive. For the process, each applicant was required to complete financial information, submit an essay about why they wanted to be a nurse, obtain a letter of recommendation from a professor or employer, and have demonstrated academic excellence with their first degree. The five scholars were chosen out of many applications received.

Ryan Baeten of Downers Grove, Maureen Dewan of Oak Forest, Bilaal Hassan of Riverside, Basirat Yusuf and Marius Zymantas of Chicago were selected as the first students at Lewis University to be scholarship recipients. Each recipient is using their award toward tuition while participating in the accelerated program at Lewis University.

“Not only does the scholarship help me with funding for school but it also provides me and the other scholars’ resources to improve leadership, time management, and test-taking skills to make us successful nursing students,” Baeten commented.

The students are enrolled in the Lewis University BAC-BSN program, which is designed for students with a first degree in another major to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing. The program benefits people like Dewan. She explained, “I contemplated getting a degree in nursing my first time through college, but I pushed the idea away because I was not confident that I could handle the coursework. Working in adult day programming for individuals with mental illnesses and developmental disabilities as well as working in a school for children with autism has helped solidify my desire to spend my life caring for others.”

Zymantas switched careers from working in healthcare administration to a nurse because he thought he could have a greater impact by working more closely with patients. He said, “This scholarship is helping me concentrate on doing the best I can do in school, without the distraction of where I'm going to come up with the money to complete my degree.”

Patient interaction is also something Yusuf looks forward to as a nurse. She said, “Nursing is a profession that allows you to be caring, understanding, empathetic, and an advocate while giving the best patient care.”

In addition to a $10,000 scholarship, NCIN scholars receive other support to help them meet the demands of an accelerated degree program. All NCIN grantee schools maintain a leadership program and a mentoring program for their scholars, as well as a pre-entry immersion program to help scholars learn study, test-taking, and other skills that will help them manage the challenges of an accelerated program.

“NCIN is strengthening nursing education and creating a culture of change at schools of nursing across the country,” said AACN President Jane Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN. “Our grantee schools are committed to enrolling students traditionally underrepresented in nursing, and students are benefiting from the emphasis on mentoring and leadership development that are hallmarks of the NCIN program. AACN is proud to collaborate with RWJF on this ground-breaking effort.”

The 2010 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, recommends increasing the proportion of nurses with a baccalaureate degree or higher, and increasing the diversity of students to create a nursing workforce prepared to meet the health care demands of diverse populations across the lifespan. NCIN is helping to advance those recommendations, enabling schools to expand student capacity in higher education, and encouraging more diversity.

By bringing more nurses into the profession at the baccalaureate and master’s degree levels, the NCIN program also helps to address the nation’s nurse faculty shortage. This trend is reflected in the NCIN scholars, as 91 percent of the students receiving funding in the first three years of the program indicate a desire to advance their education to the master’s and doctoral levels.

For more information about Lewis University’s accelerated program, visit To find learn more about the NCIN program, visit


About NCIN
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) joined with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) to create New Careers in Nursing (NCIN): an RWJF Scholarship Program to help alleviate the nursing shortage and increase the diversity of nursing professionals. Through annual grants to schools of nursing, NCIN provides $10,000 scholarships to college graduates with degrees in other fields who wish to transition into nursing through an accelerated baccalaureate or master’s nursing program. For more information, visit

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve the health and health care of all Americans. We are striving to build a national culture of health that will enable all Americans to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at

About AACN
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the national voice for baccalaureate and graduate programs in nursing. Representing more than 720 member schools of nursing at public and private institutions nationwide, AACN’s educational, research, governmental advocacy, data collection, publications and other programs work to establish quality standards for bachelor’s and graduate degree nursing education, assist deans and directors to implement those standards, influence the nursing profession to improve health care, and promote public support of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education, research and practice. For more information, visit

About Lewis University
Lewis University is a Catholic university in the Lasallian tradition offering distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs to more than 6,600 traditional and adult students. Lewis offers multiple campus locations, online degree programs, and a variety of formats that provide accessibility and convenience to a growing student population. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis prepares intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected, and socially responsible graduates. The seventh largest private not-for-profit university in Illinois, Lewis has been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report. Visit for further information.

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