Leaders from GVSU, Corewell Health celebrate inaugural cohort of scholars

One year ago, both institutions created unique program to combat nursing shortage

At 29, GVSU student Gabriel Martinez has had a diverse career that includes being a high school wrestling coach and a nurse technician.

It was his role as a coach that pushed him to finish his degree. "I wanted to walk the talk I was telling our students about going to college and getting a degree," Martinez said.

Martinez and nearly 30 other students were celebrated as the inaugural cohort of Corewell Health Nurse Scholars during a reception April 10 at the DeVos Center for Interprofessional Health on GVSU's Health Campus.

President Mantella, left, talks with student Gabe Martinez
President Philomena V. Mantella talks with nursing student Gabriel Martinez April 10 at an event to celebrate the inaugural cohort of Corewell Health Nurse Scholars.
Image credit - Amanda Pitts

One year ago, the two institutions announced a unique partnership to address the nursing shortage. Corewell Health pledged to invest more than $19 million over six years into the program that will create opportunities for 500 students to pursue a nursing degree at GVSU. Grand Valley agreed to increase its infrastructure support for students, from financial aid to curriculum enhancements to simulation experiences.

Martinez said the scholarship money made it possible for him to finish a degree. "Everything aligned — the scholarship and the fact that I will have a job at Corewell Health when I'm done," he said.

President Philomena V. Mantella congratulated the scholars who are nearing the end of their first semester. She also advised the students they bear some responsibility for the program's success.

Tina Freese Decker speaks from a podium
Tina Freese Decker, president and CEO of Corewell Health, addresses students at an event in the DeVos Center for Interprofessional Health.
Image credit - Amanda Pitts
Lola Coke, KCON Director of Strategic Initiatives, speaks from a podium
Lola Coke, KCON associate professor and director of strategic initiatives, welcomes audience members. Coke was acting KCON dean last year when the agreement with Corewell Health was established.
Image credit - Amanda Pitts

"I want you to feel a sense of pride and accomplishment for what you have done so far, but also a sense of responsibility," Mantella said. "This program is innovative and serves as a model for others around the country. Your success will help place more nurses in health care."

Tina Freese Decker, president and CEO of Corewell Health, welcomed students to the organization and reiterated the support available to them throughout their journey.

"You have nurse coaches teaching and mentoring you along the way and we have a nurse residency program to help with the transition to practicing health care," Freese Decker said. "You are part of our family now, and we are here to support you and help you grow in this role."

president Mantella and four nursing students give the anchor up sign
President Philomena V. Mantella and nursing students give the Anchor Up sign.
Image credit - Amanda Pitts


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