Stevie Burrows

Stevie Burrows wants to make a difference in the health of rural and low-income Alabama communities.

To do this, the Cullman, Alabama, native earned a master’s degree in public health from UAB and spent a few years working for a local health department and nonprofits. But she realized she wanted to be more hands-on in providing direct care and improving health outcomes in her community.

Nursing “allows me to use my public health knowledge to make changes in health care and educate patients while also treating their immediate needs,” Burrows says. She was accepted into the UAB School of Nursing’s accelerated master’s in nursing pathway, which places students who already have a degree—at least a bachelor’s—in a non-nursing field on a fast track to a master’s degree.

Burrows also became one of the first recipients of the Helene Fuld Health Trust Scholarship. She is among seven students in her class to earn the award.

The Helene Fuld Health Trust, one of the nation’s largest private funders devoted to nursing students and education, created a scholarship in 2018 to support deserving students in the School of Nursing’s accelerated master’s in nursing pathway. The trust invests in the health of communities across the country by awarding funding to schools that offer accelerated degree programs and innovative community-based programs that expand the leadership skills of nursing students. That extends the legacy of the trust’s namesake, Helene Fuld, who was passionate about addressing health issues and relieving poverty before her passing in 1923. The trust was established in 1935 by her son, Leonhard Felix Fuld, and his sister, Florentine, to honor the memory of their mother.

The scholarship is already making a difference in students’ lives, says Doreen Harper, Ph.D, R.N., the Fay B. Ireland Endowed Chair for the Dean of the School of Nursing. “Scholarships enable our students to focus on their education, both in the classroom and through other learning experiences,” she explains.

The School of Nursing’s accelerated master’s in nursing pathway was established in 2008 to respond to the growing need for well-educated, highly skilled professionals who can manage the complex health care needs in Alabama and across the country. More than 60 students enroll in the pathway each year, and in four semesters, they can earn a general master’s degree in nursing and are positioned to be leaders in the field.

“Our accelerated master’s in nursing pathway educates a new generation of nursing leaders who are ready to improve health care for the people and communities they serve, and the UAB School of Nursing is honored to receive this commitment from the Helene Fuld Health Trust,” Harper says. “As our accelerated master’s students approach the rigorous coursework within the program, this scholarship will provide the support they need to succeed.”

Burrows says her goal is to work in women’s health, specifically as a labor and delivery nurse. The Helene Fuld Health Trust Scholarship is helping her achieve that goal, she says. “This scholarship is not just helping me save money. It helps me be more focused on my passion,” Burrows explains. “It will set me up to pursue what I want to do and what I believe I will be the best at doing.”

Burrows also plans to give back to Alabama and care for rural communities across the state. “My heart is here,” she says.

Three other inaugural Helene Fuld Health Trust Scholarship recipients describe how the scholarship is helping them realize their goals:

John Di Giacomo

Serving Others Overseas

After a stint as an English teacher and two years working for the Peace Corps in Ukraine, John Di Giacomo was searching for the next step in his journey.

“I love teaching, but I wanted to be able to use my hands a bit more,” he says. “I was looking for something that would allow me to help people and travel. My sister-in-law introduced me to the idea of nursing.”

Di Giacomo’s ultimate goal is to work internationally—and to focus on caring for women and children. “It’s pretty clear that if you want to improve the quality of life in a community, you should start with the mothers and the children.”

Di Giacomo says the Helene Fuld Health Trust Scholarship has relieved some of his financial burden. And he’s inspired by the impact Helene Fuld herself continues to make in the lives of students today. “There is something to be said about making a difference not only while you are alive but also to be giving enough to make a difference after you are gone. It’s remarkable and inspiring.”

Kate Fuah

Inspired to Help

When Kate Fuah was pregnant with her twins, she was put on bed rest at a hospital for 10 weeks. “The nurses treated me so well and made a strong impression on me,” she says.

Fuah, a native of Ghana who holds a Ph.D. in nutrition from Kansas State University and worked as an assistant professor of nutrition for two years at Whittier College in California, had moved to Birmingham to join her husband after the two got married. She was considering a career change at the time, so she asked the hospital nurses about different aspects of their jobs. She then began researching programs at UAB. “Knowing I could become a nurse in four semesters and be able to apply my background in nutrition attracted me,” she says.

The decision to go back to school as a mother of two wasn’t easy, Fuah says. And because the accelerated master’s in nursing pathway is a full-time course load, that means her twins are in day care full-time while she is in school and her husband works. “Getting this scholarship has helped relieve the financial burden of day care,” she says.

Fuah plans to practice nursing in Alabama after she graduates and pursue further studies to become a nurse practitioner. She isn’t sure yet which area of nursing she will focus on, but she keeps thinking about the nurses who inspired her while she was pregnant. “I think I want to work in women’s health,” Fuah says.

Matthew Pate

Discovering a Passion

Matthew Pate earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, but after he graduated, he felt drawn toward health care. He says he’s found his passion with nursing.

“I want to help people,” he says. And the accelerated master’s in nursing pathway seemed like the right fit. “A master’s right off the bat will better prepare me to be a leader in the nursing field,” he adds.

Earning the Helene Fuld Health Trust Scholarship solidified his decision to pursue his goals, Pate adds. “It’s an honor to receive something that will help pay for school,” he says. “It does take off the financial burden. School is not cheap, and any help means a lot.”

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