Talk to Jonas Nurse Leader Scholars and you’ll be amazed at what they have accomplished and how they have advanced themselves and the nursing profession. The scholars tell inspiring stories about how they pursued their dreams and enriched their lives because of the generosity of Barbara and Donald Jonas, who co-founded the New York City-based Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare. This year is a special one for the center, as it celebrates its 10-year anniversary and its progress in preparing 1,000 nurse faculty and clinical leaders.

Meet Erika Setliff, DNP, RN, CCRN-CSC, ACNS-BC, clinical nurse specialist in thoracic and cardiovascular services at University of Virginia Health System, who graduated with a doctorate in nursing practice from the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in May 2015. “As a Jonas Scholar alumna, I am able to combine scholarship and leadership with my love of clinical practice, and use these skills and experiences to positively impact nursing for the rest of my career,” she said.

Along with the financial support for her DNP, the Jonas Center connected Setliff with a team that was fully invested in her academic and professional success, both as a nurse and a leader. Because of the Jonas Center’s partnership with Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, she implemented her DNP capstone at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, where she evaluated the impact of communication technology in the clinical setting. “I networked with and learned from incredible nursing leaders who taught me how to bring teams together toward a common goal and effectively implement change,” Setliff said.

The first in Rhode Island to receive a Jonas Nurse Leader scholarship, Lisa A. DiMaria, PhD, RN, is adjunct faculty, University of Rhode Island, College of Nursing, and project director, State Implementation Plan 3, Rhode Island Action Coalition. She graduated with her PhD in nursing from the University of Rhode Island in 2015.

For DiMaria, the Jonases gave her the gift of connection. “Conducting your own research and writing a dissertation can be an isolating venture,” she said. “I had frequent contact with other scholars through social media and our meeting in Washington, D.C., which provided me with the support I needed during a stressful yet exciting time.”

DiMaria hopes to pass on what she has learned about being a notable nurse leader to her students. “I help students identify their leadership potential, even when they might not be thinking of themselves in that way,” she said.

Because of the program, DiMaria became involved in her state action coalition and remains active to this day. “Now I envision how I can advance the profession in a changing healthcare environment, and I have established great professional connections,” she said. “All of this is directly related to my being a Jonas Scholar.”

The Jonas Center scholarship enabled Debbie Anglade PhD, RN, LHRM, CPHQ, CCM, assistant professor of clinical, University of Miami, School of Nursing and Health Studies, to continue her studies and earn a doctorate in nursing. “Now that I completed my PhD, I teach and mentor novice and graduate nursing students all across the country, and it gives me great pleasure to watch them grow in their nursing careers,” she said.

During the scholar program, Anglade became involved with the local Florida Action Coalition and is working to advance the diversity of nursing leadership throughout the state of Florida.

Anglade has a strong affinity to the Jonas Scholar Alumni Group, just as she has with the University of Miami, where she received her MSN and PhD degrees. “Through the group, I have met outstanding nurses and developed wonderful professional relationships and friendships,” she said.

Jackie Eaton, PhD, research assistant professor and project director, Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence, University of Utah College of Nursing, Salt Lake City, received her PhD at the Hartford Center in 2014.

Thanks to the funding she received as a Jonas Scholar, she was able to focus on school, cover dissertation costs and graduate in four years. Since graduation, she has published articles, received pilot funding for her research and developed collaborative teams to improve support and resources for caregivers of older adults.

Although not a nurse herself, Eaton has taught nurses since 2003 through an interdisciplinary program in gerontology. Her research uses arts-based approaches to focus on late life potential, with the goal of increasing the number of care providers interested in working with this population and improving the quality of life for older adults and their families. “Certainly, the Jonas Scholar program has provided me with the support and encouragement to continue on this meaningful path,” Eaton said.

Adrian Juarez, PhD, RN, assistant professor, Department of Family, Community & Health Sciences, School of Nursing, University of Buffalo, said he reached his ultimate goal by earning a PhD in nursing from New York University in 2012. He sums up the words of many of his Jonas Nurse Leader Scholar colleagues: “No words can capture the depth of gratitude I have for the Jonas’s generosity. Instead, I have learned the best way to show my gratitude is to ‘pay it forward.’ Through my work and good deeds, I will try to make a difference in the lives of those in need and hopefully make this world a better place.”

As the nation’s leading philanthropic funder of graduate nursing education, the Jonas Center has grown from a New York City-focused funder to a national organization in partnership with leading schools of nursing in all 50 states. The Jonas Center’s commitment to graduate nursing has already reached nearly $25 million in grants to scholars — nurses pursuing PhDs and DNPs.

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