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New Penn Nursing COVID-19 Scholarship Protects the Future of Health Care

With the staggering unemployment numbers released each week due to the global pandemic, it was clear to the leadership at Penn Nursing that it could result in a catastrophic future nursing shortage.

The Margaret Bond Simon Dean of Nursing, Antonia M. Villarruel, says, “The need for nurses with the extraordinary education that Penn Nursing provides continues to grow each year. But with 42 million Americans now without work because of COVID-19, so many of our students and their families are facing severe economic hardships—so much so that very promising students have been thinking of discontinuing their education. That would be a devastating loss to health and health care.”

The solution: the Penn Nursing COVID-19 Scholarship Fund, created as an emergency source of financial aid for our students facing financial hardship related to the global pandemic. The School is committed to ensuring that a Penn Nursing education is accessible to the best and brightest minds, regardless of economic circumstances and personal background. As such, roughly 85 percent of Penn Nursing students rely on financial aid to afford tuition—a percentage that is sure to increase, with dollar value need rising dramatically as well.

This crisis-level need inspired Patricia Bleznak Silverstein, C’81, and Howard A. Silverstein, W’69, to make a generous gift to the COVID-19 Scholarship Fund. Patricia—a member of the Penn Nursing Board of Overseers for almost ten years and a long-time supporter of the School—says,

“Being in the epicenter of the outbreak in New York City, we were acutely aware of the vital importance of nurses in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Our family felt the need to do whatever we could to support the nursing community. We could think of no better place or need than Penn Nursing and, in particular, the Dean’s scholarship initiative. No one entering the critical career of nursing should be deprived of that opportunity by the current crisis.”

The Silversteins also recently made a significant commitment to the Future of Nursing Education Fund and the Learning Technology Term Fund, both of which provide Penn Nursing with resources to continually upgrade the School’s rigorous and innovative curriculum and technology options to ensure it remains the #1 ranked nursing school in the world by providing the best possible nursing education.

Dean Villarruel notes, “Penn Nursing is so grateful to Patty and Howie Silverstein for their support and leadership. The outpouring of love and concern our friends and alumni have shown for our students—especially at a time when so many of them are suffering themselves—makes it clear what a special community we have.”

To support the Penn Nursing COVID-19 Scholarship Fund and ensure a promising nursing student’s career can continue to flourish, click here for more information about the Fund and to make a contribution.