Conway Scholars, on Their Way to Becoming Nurses, Hit Their Stride
As the Conway Scholars gathered for an end-of-semester study break, Emena Quattlebaum beamed with pride and said, “We are the inaugural group of Conway Scholars. We get to pave the way for those who follow us.” That sense of pride and specialness is expressed by all of the Conway Scholars, who have just completed their first year at Trinity.
The Joanne and William Conway Scholarship Program was established at Trinity in spring 2013 for high-achieving, low-income students who intend to enter the nursing profession. Through their Bedford Falls Foundation, Joanne and William Conway pledged a commitment of $2.8 million to Trinity to provide scholarships to young women from the District of Columbia and Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties who have high potential to complete a nursing degree at Trinity.
“The Conways keenly understand that for low-income students in this area, nursing is a path to both economic stability and a rewarding career in the growing health care field,” said President Patricia McGuire. “The Conway Scholarship Program is transformational for Trinity because it gives us the opportunity to provide these young women with the financial support they need, combined with the academic structure of a cohort group, to ensure the successful completion of their nursing degrees.”
The cohort experience has had a very positive impact on the Conway Scholars, providing a strong network of support. The students are so close they finish each other’s sentences. “We’re like a family,” said Teresita Hernandez-Arriola, “and we’re here for each other during the ups and downs.” Brittany Walker continued her classmate’s thought, “We keep each other in check,” she said. “We make sure everyone is doing her homework and keeping up with assignments. We support each other and that helps us to push ourselves to be better students. We all want to graduate together.” Quattlebaum added, “I feel like Trinity really cares about our academic success.”
One important source of support in their academic life is Trinity graduate Perita Carpenter ’02, a producer for ABC News and an adjunct professor. In the fall, all of the Conway Scholars took her Communication 110 course, a class that focuses on tools for academic success and, “how to navigate your way through college and develop strong study habits,” said Carpenter. In the spring, she met with the Conway Scholars every Monday to check in with them, answer questions and support them. She will continue to be their mentor through their sophomore year – and stay in close contact with them through graduation.
Carpenter is impressed with the growth and development of the Conway Scholars over the past year, as individual students and as a group. “Some of the students were shy in the beginning and others were challenged by the transition from high school to college. At the end of the class in the fall, when each student had to give a presentation, I was so impressed and amazed by their confidence and leadership. As they completed their spring semester, I have watched them step up even more and really take ownership of their education, which is so important.”
All of the Conway Scholars have a passion for nursing and for helping others. “I always wanted to be a nurse,” said Walker. “I helped care for my grandmother and when I was with her in the hospital, I saw how nurses made a difference for my grandmother and for the other patients.” She volunteers at a local hospital as do many of the Conway Scholars. They also are interested in learning different aspects of healthcare: this summer, Quattlebaum plans to work as a pharmacy technician.
This first group of Conway Scholars will be seniors when the Trinity Academic Center opens in fall 2016. “I am very excited about learning in the new nursing labs,” said Hernandez-Arriola. “I think it will be very positive for Trinity,” Quattlebaum added. “I can’t wait to walk through the doors of the new building and go to class!”