Grant gives 3 Rhode Island women chance to earn bachelor's
degrees in nursing at URI
KINGSTON, R.I. -- Jan. 11, 2001 -- Three Rhode Island registered nurses
are earning their bachelors' degrees in nursing thanks to a $50,000 grant
awarded to the University of Rhode Island by the largest private endowment
for nursing education.
Elsa M. Ayllon of North Providence, Reva Ford of Providence,
and Leshia L. Ivy, of Newport, have just completed their first semester
at URI's College of Nursing.
The students, each a graduate of the two-year nursing program at the
Community College of Rhode Island, have been awarded $5,000 each to help
them earn their four-year nursing degrees. They are the first to benefit
from the grant awarded by the Helene Fuld Health Trust, to URI nursing Professors
Paula Viau and Marylee Evans. The two said a major goal of the grant is
to increase the number of nurses serving the minority population.
The grant is designed to provide scholarships for minority and economically
disadvantaged registered nurses who want to practice in a community-based
"Leshia, Elsa and Reva have already formed a wonderful bond, and
they aced their first chemistry exam," Viau said.
"They love it, and they are absolutely thrilled to be back in school,"
Ivy, a single mother with two children, earned her associate's degree
in 1996, and is working full-time on the Intensive Care and Cardiac Care
units at Newport Hospital.
"The grant is very, very important to me so that I can expand my
knowledge and my career," Ivy said. "I want to obtain my bachelor's
and master's degrees so that I can teach some day."
She said with the scholarship, her goals are now tangible and attainable.
During the fall semester, Ivy completed four courses -- nursing concepts,
chemistry, statistics and nursing research.
She said her fellow nursing students, the professors and her children
have been supportive.
Her daughters, 10-year-old Brittany and 14-year-old Kristian, have asked
her, "'Gee Mom, are you going to be going to school forever?' I hope
that's one thing my kids always see, that you can always strive to be more
educated and reach for goals."
For the upcoming semester, Ivy will take four classes -- nursing of vulnerable
populations, clinical nursing, organic chemistry and art history "for
the fun of it.
"I am on a mission. I want to get finished. You can always make
a change; people feel they can't but they can."
Elsa Ayllon, who graduated from CCRI in 1994, has been at the Diabetes
Resource Center, a part of the St. Joseph's Hospital Specialty Center for
four years. She is certified by the Rhode Island Department of Health as
a nurse-educator, the only Hispanic nurse in the state with that credential.
She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Rhode Island Diabetes
Nurses Educators Association.
A native of Peru, she has been in the United States for 17 years and
is an American citizen. Like Ivy, Ayllon is shooting for a master's degree,
preferably in public health nursing. "I am enjoying the URI program
very much," she said. "I am learning so much from the nursing
professors and the students who are interested in different fields. You
learn so much about others' specialties."
She added that without the scholarship, she would not be able to complete
her bachelor's degree while also providing care for her mother.
After completing two courses in the fall, she will take two in the spring
and two in the summer.
Ayllon, who was a librarian in Peru, said she wanted to switch careers
when she got to the United States. "Being a librarian, I was always
helping people. I love my career now, because I mainly teach. I teach diabetics
how to control their illnesses."
Reva Ford, a 1999 graduate of CCRI, works at Discovery House, a substance
abuse and mental health outpatient clinic in Providence, where she dispenses
medications, assesses patients, and draws blood. She is the tuberculosis
Ford, the single parent of 16-year-old daughter Michaela, took three
courses last semester chemistry, food science and nutrition, and nursing
concepts. "I took my finals, and I believe I did very well."
Like Ivy and Ayllon, she enjoys the camaraderie in the nursing classes
in which she is forming little networks.
"Without this grant, I would not be in school," Ford said.
If she takes three classes in the spring and summer, she'll be only two
semesters away from her bachelor's degree. "You don't want to get that
close without finishing," Ford said. "You want to reach your goal."
Ford added that the nutrition class she took is already helping her see
how certain medications affect vitamin absorption. "Little things like
that help make you a better nurse, and help you have a better nurse-client
relationship. That patient realizes you are taking time just for her."
She finds being with the other URI students stimulating. "It's fun
being around the different students," Ford said. "I feel I contribute
some life experiences the young students have not had, and they help me
out with the latest things being taught in health care."
URI Professors Evans and Viau said they are still accepting applications
for additional scholarships. URI's College of Nursing plans to award a total
of 10 scholarships. For information, call Evans 874-5312 and Viau 874-5343.
For Information: Paula Viau 874-5343,
Marylee Evans 874-5312, Dave Lavallee 874-2116