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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Scholarship honors late nursing alumna - First recipient is Worcester native

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 874-5862

KINGSTON, R.I. -- January 26, 2004 -- Sharon Dubois-Hallís passion for nursing was evident to everyone she met. Her patients, her family and her teachers, all witnessed her extraordinary ability to help people.

But her extraordinary life and career in nursing were cut short in 2001 when she was struck by a car during a break in a conference at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. At the conference, she was advocating for arthritis research.
To memorialize her life, dedication to nursing and commitment to helping people heal, her family established an endowment at the University of Rhode Island in 2002.

Sharonís husband Larry Hall, said he was touched that Sharonís father and other family members wanted to remember her in this way. "What a beautiful way to remember someone who touched so many," said Hall, also a URI graduate, who now lives in Scituate, R.I. "This endowment will forever link Sharonís name with URI nursing and its commitment to serving those in need of a healing touch."

"The family wanted to do something other than flowers," said Dan Dubois, Sharonís youngest brother. "Through the generous contributions of many dear friends and loved ones of Sharonís, this allows us to forever preserve her memory."

The endowment was created in the fall of 2002 to help graduate students in nursing pay for their studies. Each year, a student, who demonstrates a commitment to primary care nursing, is chosen to receive the $1,000 scholarship. Last fall, the award was presented to Lisa Sullivan.

"The scholarship has helped me a lot," said Sullivan, a native of Worcester, Mass. who was nominated for the award by one of her professors. "Last semester, I overextended myself with both work and school. This scholarship has helped me to focus on my studies."

Sullivanís goal is to work with the geriatric population to improve quality of life for seniors. She is pursuing a masterís degree as a family nurse-practitioner with a clinical specialty in gerontology. Currently, a West Kingston resident, she will then pursue her doctorate in nursing.

"The medical field is based on a curative paradigm that places cure as the primary method of healing," Sullivan said. "Due to these advances, people are living longer and developing chronic illness. Subsequently, those who have chronic illness and the health care professionals who care for them are left in a bind. Chronic illness cannot be cured. It can only be managed. My hopes are to practice the philosophies of palliative care in bridging this gap."

Like Sullivan, Sharon Dubois-Hall also yearned for the opportunity to learn more. After receiving her masterís degree in gerontology from the University of Rhode Island, she completed another masterís degree to become a nurse-practitioner. Dubois said that his sister especially loved the education aspects of nursing.
"I believe it all stems from my mom, who is also a nurse," said Dubois.

He remembers his sisterís love of nursing began at an early age. At 13, Sharon volunteered as a candy striper at a hospital in Virginia. A few years ago, he visited his sister in Rhode Island, while she was working for the Visiting Nurse Association.

"She had kids at home and sheíd be working all hours of the night helping the sick and dying," said Dubois, who accompanied her on her rounds. "We went to some of the most rundown parts of Providence. You should have seen the faces on her patients. They lit up when she walked into the room. It was like an old friend was coming to visit."

The endowment is very important, because of the need for scholarships available to graduate students, said Dayle Joseph, dean of the College of Nursing.

"The award is presented each year at the Collegeís annual cookout at the beginning of the year," said Joseph. "At the cookout, we introduce Sharonís family to the student who is receiving the award.

"Everyone in her family came to the annual cookout, and I got to meet them all," said Sullivan. "The fact that they all showed up to present this scholarship to me, it honors the person that she was. I only wish I had had the opportunity to meet her."

"Words canít say how missed she is, not just to the family, but to the profession," said Dubois. "Hopefully, this endowment will remind everyone of her dedication and her passion for helping people."