PEMBROKE — Nursing graduates at 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.
“This is a big day for us,” Dr. 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.”
Leaders from both institutions met Cummings and Dempsey at Sandhills Community College. 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.”
To qualify, nursing graduates must enroll in the RN-BSN program at UNCP within 24 months of earning their degree at Sandhills Community College. 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,” Elkins said. “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.
“I am very excited to be able to offer this opportunity to encourage our students to go on to complete their BSN at UNCP,” Elkins said.
Cummings said collaboration was among the six core values he wanted to stress as chancellor.
“Like hospitals that join together to offer patients a full range of healthcare 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.
UNC Pembroke has been offering degrees at Sandhills Community College since 1996.
“We’ve had a great relationship with UNCP for a long time, but with Chancellor Cummings coming on board I feel like we’ve gotten a new invigorating spirit that’s really come into the relationship,” Elkins said.
Aside from nursing, UNCP offers undergraduate degrees in business administration, interdisciplinary studies and social work. Graduate programs offered at SCC include school administration, reading and elementary education, public administration, social work and business administration.
Mark Locklear serves as public communications specialist at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.