HELPING THEIR OWN
- Student representatives from the Practical Nursing program at Rend Lake College recently spearheaded a scholarship drive that received overwhelming support from area residents and raised about $3,000 for LPN summer scholarships. FROM LEFT are; Greg Shields (Marion), Chris Nemeth (Mt. Vernon), Interim Director of Nursing Gynelle Baccus RN, PhD; Frankie Lambert (Mt. Vernon), Rachel Burkhamer (Royalton), Ryan Kirkpatrick (West Frankfort), Gail Wegel-Piper (Mt. Vernon) and faculty sponsor, LPN Instructory Erica Blumenstock. Students from across the program answered the call to raise tuition for training their fellow future nurses. CLICK HERE
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INA – It’s been one of the best years in scholarship fundraising history for Practical Nursing students at Rend Lake College.
The approximately 60 students on course to complete the program to become Licensed Practical Nurses this summer recently hit the streets and raised around $3,000 for their scholarship fund invested with the Rend Lake College Foundation. It’s the most students have raised in this fundraising event over the past decade.
“I’m very impressed to have a fundraiser of this magnitude coming from a student club,” said RLC Foundation CEO Pat Kern. “I think it speaks highly of their passion and enthusiasm to help other students going through this program. The nursing department ... is very close-knit. Because of that, they become a key alumni group and remain connected throughout the years.”
This is the only student-driven fundraiser by LPN students, for LPN students all year. Some students have a shot at getting a summer tuition waiver, while others may not. The important thing is that they all put forth effort to make it successful.
“It definitely feels good to help students,” said Greg Shields, one of six students elected by their classmates to serve as student representatives. Their job is to look out for their classmates’ interests and organize the scholarship drive.
“This is something that is really going to better our lives for the rest of our lives,” Shields added about the nursing program. “We are in a field where we are helping people. It’s a service to our society.”
“The students who receive scholarships through this campaign are very grateful because sometimes other financial aid isn’t available in the summer semester,” said Kristin Yosanovich, an associate professor in the program. “It really helps out a lot and they are always happy to receive it.”
Because the LPN scholarship fund is an endowed fund through the Foundation, students not only help their classmates, but help future classes for years to come.
Kern said the roughly $3,000 raised is added to the endowed scholarship fund’s $43,000 balance to bring the total to $46,000 in secure investments. The principal balance is never touched, according to Kern. Once it reaches $50,000, the LPN scholarship fund will become eligible for the Foundation’s Gold Major Gift Award.
“Interest earned off the principal invested is used to award scholarships,” she said. “We guarantee a five percent return. Sometimes it’s more. Five percent of $46,000 will be about $2,300 and the scholarship committee will determine which students will be awarded the summer tuition scholarships.”
Because the LPN program takes three semesters to complete – fall, spring and summer – there are many times where summer scholarships are not available. This scholarship fund fixes that for some nursing students. Kern decided the total amount for this coming summer will reach $2,500 which would mean about five students could be selected.
Students who hit the fundraising trail found local support without much trouble, even in tough economic times.
“I just picked up the phone and found that my community of Mt. Vernon was extremely generous,” said another student representative, Gail Wegel-Piper. “It was just a matter of asking.”
Support for the raffle came from numerous prize donors, including Rend Lake Resort, Crossroads Community Hospital, Davita, Elk’s Lodge, Sesser Foodland, The Uniform Shop, Deb’s Shear Happiness, Pinckneyville Hospital, The Dish on the Square, Mr. Video, The Primitive, Carl’s Clothing, Applebee’s, The Pampered Chef, Brighton, Dr. Arthur E. Ronat General Dentistry, Yankee Candle, Off Mane Designs, Drake’s Jewelry, Manestage, Roger’s Family Tire, Sesser Opera House, Vera Bradley, Cato’s, Sesser Auto Body, Subway, Avon, Jackson Jewelers, Kerlin’s Hallmark and Schmidt Chevrolet.