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Nursing students earn Mary Free Bed scholarships

  • four women holding certificates

Posted on June 23, 2017

Four Kirkhof College of Nursing students earned scholarships from Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in June.

Aquandralyn Bajric, of Grand Rapids; Sophia Blackwell, of Jackson; Hang Do, of Grand Rapids; and Maju Wilhelm, of Muskegon, each received the Mary Free Bed Minority Scholarship. Wilhelm is enrolled in KCON's Doctor of Nursing Practice program; the other students are pursuing bachelor's degrees in nursing.

Wade Burge, human resources and volunteer services coordinator for Mary Free Bed, said nearly $500,000 in scholarships has been awarded to students of color since the minority scholarship program began in 2006. 

The Mary Free Bed Guild provides scholarships to students of color who are pursuing degrees in nursing, neuropsychology, orthotics, prosthetics and rehabilitation therapy programs. Recipients must demonstrate a commitment to serving diverse populations and leadership abilities through community service or volunteer work.

"We believe having a diverse staff will better meet the rehabilitation needs of our patients," Burge said. 

Blackwell was also accepted into a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs program and is working for 10 weeks as a nursing student at the Battle Creek Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

The federal Nursing Veterans Affairs Learning Opportunities Residency (VALOR) program provides opportunities for students to develop a nursing specialty area. Blackwell said she grateful for the opportunity. The Battle Creek center is classified as a neuropsychiatric facility and she is interested in pursuing a mental health nursing career.

"I wanted to work for the VA," Blackwell said. "My dad is a vet, my two brothers are veterans. My dad used the services at the VA and it helped our family; I want to make a difference for other veterans and their families."