Three College of Nursing gifts provide $6.3 million to student scholarships, strengthen caregiver pipeline

Amid a growing nursing shortage across the state and nation, the College of Nursing recently received more than $6.3 million from generous benefactors to support scholarships for nursing students and the college’s direct entry nursing master’s program.

Marquette nursing alumna Dorothy Krawczyk gifted $4.7 million to student scholarships through her estate, nursing alumna Alice Stecker contributed $1 million toward scholarship support, and the Helene Fuld Health Trust provided a $675,000 grant to support the College of Nursing’s direct entry nursing program. This combined support opens doors for future caregivers at a time when a robust student-nurse pipeline is in high demand.

“These generous gifts will help ensure more Marquette nurses are out in the world caring for their patients and leading complex health systems in the Jesuit tradition of cura personalis, or care for the whole person,” said Dr. Janet Krejci, dean of the College of Nursing. “We are grateful to Dorothy, Alice and the Helene Fuld Health Trust for their commitment to nursing education.”

“What’s truly wonderful about our alumni and friends is their commitment to opening doors for the next generation of students,” said President Michael R. Lovell. “These generous gifts to benefit the health of our community are helping us achieve our Beyond Boundaries strategic plan, providing a pathway for Marquette to be recognized among the most innovative and accomplished Catholic and Jesuit universities in the world.”

A passion for care

Krawczyk worked as a VA nurse for many years, most recently living in Florida. After losing her mother at a young age, she cared closely for her father. Compassionate and a devout Catholic, Krawczyk held deep appreciation for her Marquette education and found peace of mind in lasting purpose — like her gift to nursing scholarship — rather than material things.

The vision of empowering future nurses also fueled Stecker’s gift. Her lifelong passion for nursing began at a time when most nursing education consisted of 3-year diploma programs within hospitals. Instead, Stecker joined Marquette’s baccalaureate program — one of two in the state. “I wanted to be a nurse from the time I was a little Wisconsin girl with mittens attached to my sleeves in winter,” she said.

Marquette nursing’s philosophy that every being is created in God’s image spoke deeply to her. After her undergraduate studies and clinical work at Milwaukee’s St. Joseph’s Hospital, Alice earned her master’s at Marquette — a rarity in those days, and one that helped launch her career in nursing administration and teaching.

Throughout most of her career, nursing experienced a constant shortage of caregivers. In the late ‘90s, Stecker felt called to do something about it: she put her savings toward an endowed scholarship at Marquette with the hope of preparing additional nurses. Earlier this year, she doubled down, raising her scholarship to $1 million through future gift commitments.

“When I think about what this might mean for future nurses and future patients, it fills my heart,” Stecker said.

Direct-entry support

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted the job outlook for registered nurses to rise by 15 percent between 2016 and 2026, which is more than double the 7 percent estimated growth rate expected across all occupations.

Thanks to a $675,000 grant from the Helene Fuld Health Trust, Marquette is training more non-traditional nursing students to join the workforce through its direct entry nursing program, which is designed for graduates who hold baccalaureate degrees in fields other than nursing. The 75-credit program builds upon previous, broad educational preparation and provides an intense, accelerated, and specialized nursing curriculum preparing students to take the NCLEX examination and to earn a Master of Science degree in nursing. The curriculum is designed to facilitate graduate nursing education and accommodate adult learners. Classes are offered on Marquette’s campus in Milwaukee and in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, which is a hybrid program with a combination of distance learning and in-person clinicals, skills labs and clinical simulations.

“We are truly inspired by these generous legacy gifts, which will provide transformational educational opportunities to future Marquette nurses,” said Tim McMahon, vice president for University Advancement.