Health and Medicine People and Community

Scholarships aid disadvantaged students studying to be nurse practitioners

The School of Nursing and Health Studies has secured a five-year grant that will provide underrepresented students with financial assistance to pursue a health profession in the family nurse practitioner or adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner fields.
Nursing students

The Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students will provide grants to master’s degree students enrolled in the family nurse practitioner or adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner fields.

The University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies has received a five-year, $3.25 million grant under the Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students (SDS) program awarded by the Health Resources Services, a branch of the U.S. Department of Health. 

The grant will fund up to $40,000 per semester to each of 16 to 20 full-time master’s degree students who are enrolled in the family nurse practitioner or adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner fields. 

The SDS grant is aimed to support and promote diversity in the health professions. The scholarships are made available to students from disadvantaged—educationally, environmentally, or economically—backgrounds who demonstrate a financial need and/or are a member of an underrepresented racial or ethnic minority group. Students who receive an award are also paired with a faculty mentor to help guide them through the program. 

“This is an awesome opportunity for students,” said Johis Ortega, who is the associate dean for Hemispheric and Global Initiatives at the school and the director of the program. “We try to pair them with someone they identify with, so that they can feel comfortable talking about any issues they can encounter pursuing the program.” 

One grant recipient is Sandra Joseph, a native of Haiti who came to Miami when she was 15 years old to seek better educational opportunities. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in the one-year family nurse practitioner program at the University. From the start of the program, she said, she has felt supported and empowered. 

“I really love the program,” said Joseph, whose mentor is Kenya Snowden, an associate professor of clinical and director of the Nurse Practitioner Program. “They have wonderful, phenomenal teachers. I've been to other universities, and sometimes when you think of such a big university, you think you're going to drown. But the community they have created has been a great thing for me.”

Joseph said she knows she isn’t alone, and this program has allowed her to focus on excelling and balance being a parent of two children. 

“Having the extra support and having them pay for a majority of my courses, leaving me with a minimal amount to pay, makes a big difference,” said Joseph.