Veterans helping veterans: University of San Francisco’s graduate nursing scholarships

Veterans helping veterans: University of San Francisco’s graduate nursing scholarships

Nov 2022 | Higher Education

Over the past several years, the University of San Francisco (USF) has significantly expanded its services and programs related to veterans. This includes support both for students who are veterans and for students who intend to serve the veteran community. The results of USF’s outreach are impressive: The number of veterans enrolled has almost doubled, from 202 in 2013 to 372 in 2022. As part of Koret’s Higher Education Initiative, the Foundation included veterans as a target population and made several grants to regional programs that serve this vulnerable group. 

The focus of this story is five students, all veterans, who are pursuing graduate degrees in nursing and have received scholarships through Koret’s grants. Though the students’ backgrounds, military service, and skills are diverse, they have an admirable goal in common: to help fellow veterans.

USF’s School of Nursing & Health Professions has partnered with the Department of Veterans Affairs Northern California Health Care System to form the Veterans Affairs Nursing Academic Partnership (VANAP). The partnership will expand the workforce of nurses able to provide quality veteran-centric care. USF’s VANAP program is unique in Northern California, advancing veteran-centric care in alignment with the Jesuit tenet of “cura personalis,” the care of the whole person. Providing care to veterans deserves such a holistic approach. Being veterans themselves, these scholarship recipients possess unique perspectives, cultural competencies, and a valuable understanding of the patients they will serve. Let us tell you a little about them.   

Tayari Carter, Clinical Psychology

Raised in the rural South, Tayari is an African American first-generation college student who earned his bachelor of science degree in psychology from Tuskegee University in 2019. Prior to college, Tayari served for almost a decade in the U.S. Army as a military police officer, attaining the rank of sergeant. Tayari is very tech savvy, having worked in sales and software development at companies like  Verizon, AT&T, and Apple—but has ultimately chosen to pursue a different career path. He selected USF as an institution that supports his passion for advocating for affordable and efficient mental care for an underrepresented and marginalized population. The Koret scholarship has helped Tayari continue his studies at USF.

Beverly Chen, Nursing 

Beverly is a U.S. Air Force veteran,  currently working as a registered nurse at the Palo Alto Veterans Administration. She enjoys helping fellow vets, including those with diagnoses such as dementia, PTSD, schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, and traumatic brain injuries. A native San Franciscan, Beverly often passed by the USF campus, sensing she would go to school there one day. As an RN, she believes that lifelong learning is key, and decided to pursue her graduate degree at USF’s School of Nursing and Health Professions. As the mother of a young child, juggling working full-time with attending graduate school full-time, Beverly is grateful not to have to worry about tuition and other education costs. Her Koret scholarship has allowed her to pursue her professional dream almost debt-free.

Russell Hall, Clinical Nurse Leader 

Russell is from Riverside, California. He served as an infantryman in the U.S. Army from 2010 through 2014, deploying to Afghanistan in 2010 and again in 2012. Once separated from the military, Russell enrolled at California State University Fullerton, where he earned his bachelors of science in biology. While pursuing his degree, he also worked as a program coordinator for the Veteran Resource Center on campus. At the beginning of the pandemic, Russell earned his EMT certification, and worked as a first responder until he was accepted into USF’s nursing program—whose accelerated timetable was a key factor for  Russell. After exhausting his G.I. Bill benefits to finance his undergraduate degree, the prospect of accumulating debt to continue his education was a great concern. The Koret scholarship has greatly eased Russell’s stress and uncertainty about pursuing his graduate studies.

Shellie Riley, Clinical Nurse Leader 

Shellie is from Hawaiian Gardens, California. She served in the U.S. Army between 2004 and 2009, and graduated from Ashford University (now part of the University of Arizona) in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in human resources management. Shellie serves as her family’s primary childcare provider and caretaker. After her husband was injured in Afghanistan, the family experienced several frustrating twists and turns in navigating the military medical system and the VA. Shellie decided to pursue a graduate program at USF in the School of Nursing and Health Professions largely in response to inconsistencies within healthcare systems. As a future healthcare professional, she hopes to create positive impacts to improve those areas.

MacDana Seleçon, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

MacDana grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and joined the U.S. Air Force immediately after graduating from high school. By her eighteenth birthday, she had been trained as a surgical technologist. After earning her RN license, she joined the cardiac surgical team and transplant services at California Pacific Medical Center. She currently works at the University of California, Davis as an operating room nurse. Having earned her master of science in nursing at USF in 2019, MacDana considers herself fortunate to continue her education there. She decided to pursue a graduate program at USF in the School of Nursing and Health Professions because of USF’s commitment to embrace diversity, engage in community affairs, and support students seeking to make a change in the world. Her Koret scholarship has allowed MacDana to reduce her work hours and focus on research and learning.