PEMBROKE — Nursing graduates of Sandhills Community College will receive a guaranteed $1,000 scholarship if they pursue a bachelor’s degree in Nursing at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
UNCP Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings and SCC President John Dempsey signed a formal agreement last month, launching the Pembroke Pathway Nursing Scholarship.
Beginning in August, the scholarship will be awarded to any SCC nursing graduate who enrolls in the RN-BSN program at UNCP within 24 months of earning their degree at SCC.
“This is a big day for us,” Cummings said after penning the agreement. “John, we are honored and so thankful for this opportunity. This will change lives. Thank you very much for having a vision.”
Dempsey said the scholarship program will be used to encourage nursing graduates to continue their education.
“It’s no secret that the requirements for nursing education are going up,” Dempsey said. “The credentialing requirements will almost certainly within five years require a baccalaureate for employment.
“Currently, they require a baccalaureate for continued employment after a certain number of years. I see that eventually becoming an entry requirement and so it will be essential for our students to be able to finish their undergraduate education in an expeditious way.”
The funds are provided by the Sandhills Community College Foundation.
“This is part of our commitment to help encourage our students to go on and get their bachelor’s degree,” said Germaine Elkins, executive director of the SCC Foundation. “A lot of times that first semester is the hardest. This is a way to alleviate some of that strain on nurses who may be already working. With this program we can pave the way for them to continue their education.”
Elkins said many employers in the nursing field are requiring new employees to complete their bachelor’s degree within a certain number of years of starting a new position with an associate’s degree.
“We see this moving toward more education rather than less,” she said. “I think that’s just a trend in the industry.”
The ultimate goal, Elkins said, is to help increase the number of nurses in our service area.
Since becoming chancellor in July 2015, Cummings has emphasized collaboration as a core value.
“Like hospitals that join together to offer patients a full range of health-care options, collaboration among universities and community colleges — working together to offer our students the most options for their educational journey — is a wise and effective use of limited resources,” said Cummings.
The formal agreement is the latest example of partnership that began with the Pembroke and Pinehurst schools 20 years ago. UNCP has been offering degrees at Sandhills Community College since 1996.
“We’ve had a great relationship with UNCP for a long time,” Elkins said, “but with Chancellor Cummings coming on board I feel like we’ve gotten a new invigorating spirit that’s really come into the relationship.”
Mark Locklear is a public communications specialist for UNCP.