The James and Patricia Leak Fund for Nursing Research

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During her second year of doctoral studies Ashley Leak approached the advancement office about starting a fund that would thank and recognize the support of her parents, James and Patricia Leak. Over the next three years she raised enough money to surprise her parents by announcing the fund at graduation in May.

“The James and Patricia Leak Fund for Nursing Research” will be a legacy that can assist nursing students for years to come. At this time, there are few funding resources available in the SON to assist doctoral nursing students with their research. This fund will help fulfill a vital need. It will provide an annual award to one or more doctoral students with the interest and potential to make an outstanding contribution to the nursing field through their dissertation research.

“I’ve been blessed to have had financial assistance through scholarships, awards, and grants, and I felt it was important to give back to my own profession of nursing,” says Leak. Many doctoral students work full time while going to school, and international students don’t always have access to federal funding sources. “I don’t want doctoral students to feel like there is a barrier to attending school or to finishing school,” she says. “I would like the fund to help them advance their research and to help get their research out to people who will provide direct patient care.”

Leak saw that her fellow PhD students could have benefited from this type of support. It was one reason she was motivated to create the fund. She would love to see it help students move through their doctoral work faster, for example, or for it to provide seed money for smaller studies that would help them to then apply for larger grants and to ask larger questions. “There is a great need to advance nursing science, and to do this we have to continue to give back and invest at the PhD level,” she says.

Kristen M. Swanson, Dean and Alumni Distinguished professor, liked what Leak was doing and wanted to grow the expendable fund so that it could become endowed. Dean Swanson organized a matching gift challenge targeted to alumni and faculty who know Leak. At graduation, Dean Swanson was able to then surprise Leak with the news that the fund had reached the level necessary for endowment. This means that the “The James and Patricia Leak Fund for Nursing Research” will honor the Leaks and support doctoral students in perpetuity.

“We were overjoyed and elated to be recognized for such an honorable endowment from our daughter and the School of Nursing,” say James and Patricia Leak. “We are so proud of her for thinking of others in a way that will let them achieve their goals. To Dean Kristen Swanson and the faculty, we sincerely appreciate your thoughtfulness in making this dream come true for Ashley Leak and our family.”

If you would like to add to the fund, please contact the Advancement Office at 919-966-4619.