Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Chicago

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Loyola’s Niehoff School of Nursing Awarded $2 million by Mac Neal Health Foundation Grant
More Cicero/Berwyn students to be granted full-tuition

CHICAGO, January 16, 2004 Loyola University Chicago sophomore Lucy Diaz de Leon has her sights set on becoming a nurse. Thanks to a full-tuition Mac Neal Health Foundation Scholarship, her vision is close to being realized. “The Mac Neal Health Foundation Scholarship not only allowed me to study nursing, but it allowed me to study at an institution that is focused on graduating skillful, intelligent, hard-working and noble nurse professionals,” she said.

Diaz de Leon is among 23 Loyola students who have received nursing scholarships from the Mac Neal Health Foundation since 2000. This week, the foundation awarded Loyola’s School of Nursing another $2 million to fund more scholarships for students residing in the Cicero/Berwyn area who are interested in pursuing a nursing degree.

Mac Neal Health Foundation has shared a partnership with Loyola’s Niehoff School of Nursing ever since the foundation first awarded the School of Nursing a $3 million grant almost four years ago. The grant helps maintain a scholarship program to attract more Hispanics to the nursing profession.

“The philosophy behind this grant is that we not only want to educate students who are currently interested in nursing, but we want to build aspirations in young people in the Cicero/Berwyn area so that they will aspire to go into nursing and will have the qualifications as well for baccalaureate preparation,” nursing school Dean Sheila Haas said.

The scholarship is awarded specifically to students residing in communities historically served by Mac Neal Hospital, which include Berwyn/Cicero and other neighboring areas in the hospital’s catchment area – areas that have experienced extreme growth in its Hispanic population. Students who receive the scholarship must commit to two years of service in these particular communities upon graduation. Because they are expected to fully focus on their studies during the academic year, part-time work opportunities are limited to school vacations. Mac Neal Hospital has been instrumental in providing health care related employment opportunities to Mac Neal Health Foundation Scholarship recipients.

Cicero/Berwyn, once a predominantly European community, is now more than 60 percent Hispanic, and Mac Neal Hospital serves a large percentage of Hispanic residents. However, both locally and nationally, there are very few Hispanic nurses. Research has shown that if health-care providers are not culturally competent, then patients may experience health care disparities and their health care is not always adequate, Haas said. “Nurses who are both bilingual and understand the Hispanic culture are great assets to the nursing profession and patients they serve,” she said.

Entering the nursing profession requires successful completion of a variety of math and science classes in high school, said Loyola nursing professor Gloria Jacobson, co-director of the grant. But statistics show that nearly 50 percent of Hispanic students drop out of high school. To encourage students to stay in school, retention programs have been implemented through funding from the Mac Neal Health Foundation grant. “Our goal is to help the potential nursing student population to move quickly and successfully into the college arena and into the nursing profession; both areas in which they are under-represented,” Haas said.

Jacobson meets with high school students and their parents as early as their freshman year to begin enlightening them about academic preparation necessary for college. Discussions focus on financial aid opportunities as well as standardized test preparation for the ACT exam. As a result of those discussions, an ACT course is offered to prepare students at Morton East High School, located in Cicero, for the ACT, and, each year 20 students interested in health careers receive ACT help.

The grant also helps fund Experiencias En Salud, a health career summer camp for high-school students interested in exploring health careers. For the first time this year, a book club for students interested in health care careers was established at Morton East to encourage reading at the high-school level.

Diaz de Leon said she made the decision to become a nurse when she was in high school, and the Mac Neal Health Foundation Scholarship helped to solidify that decision. “In addition, the Mac Neal Health Foundation Scholarship gave me the responsibility of being sure that nursing is a profession that I want to pursue. Having the scholarship is a responsibility because I have to meet certain expectations in order to continue being a Loyola nursing student.”

Many people in Loyola senior Erin Claudio’s family are already involved in the medical profession, so she decided to follow in their footsteps. “I just always wanted to help others,” Claudio said. “The Mac Neal Health Foundation Scholarship has provided me with the opportunity to focus on being the best student I can be.” .

Anyone living in the Cicero/Berwyn area who is interested in applying for a scholarship must first apply to Loyola and its School of Nursing department. For more information, contact Gloria Jacobson at 773.508.2887.
About Loyola University Chicago

Committed to preparing people to lead extraordinary lives, Loyola University Chicago was founded in 1870 and is among the largest of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States. Loyola has a total enrollment of more than 15,000 students, which includes 10,000 undergraduates hailing from all 50 states and 82 foreign countries. The University has four campuses: three in the greater Chicago area and one in Rome, Italy. Loyola also serves as the U.S. host university to the Beijing Center for Chinese Studies in Beijing, China. Loyola’s nine schools and colleges include arts and sciences, business administration, education, graduate studies, law, medicine, nursing, professional studies, and social work. Loyola offers 69 undergraduate majors, 77 master’s degrees, 36 doctoral degrees, and three professional degree programs. Recognizing Loyola’s excellence in education, U.S. News and World Report has ranked Loyola consistently among the “top national universities” in its annual publications. For more information, please visit our web site at www.luc.edu.

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