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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

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 setting.

"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," Evans said.

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 coordinator.

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

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Copyright 2001 University of Rhode Island. All rights reserved. Disclaimer.
Page last revised on Saturday, February 24, 2001 .