Betancur and Agor named Jonas Nurse Scholars

UNC School of Nursing Awarded Grant from Jonas Philanthropies to Fund Doctoral Nursing Students

The grant will help tackle the nation’s most pressing healthcare issues through support of high-potential doctoral nursing scholars

The UNC Chapel Hill School of Nursing is proud to announce it has been awarded a new grant of $30,000 from Jonas Philanthropies, a leading national philanthropic funder of graduate nursing education. Matched by $30,000 of its own monies, the grant will fund the scholarship of two doctoral nursing students in 2021 — Stephanie Betancur and David Chinyeaka Agor.

As a grant recipient, the UNC School of Nursing joins Jonas Philanthropies’ efforts to improve the quality of healthcare by investing in nursing scholars whose research and clinical foci specifically address our nation’s most urgent needs. The grant will empower and support nursing students with financial assistance, leadership development and networking to expand the pipeline of future nursing faculty, researchers and advanced practice nurses.

With 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 each day, 1 an entire generation of the healthcare workforce is aging at a rapid pace. 2 This, coupled with care for the 22.2 million veterans living across the country, 3 means the United States is facing a dire need for a new era of highly educated nursing professionals. Carolina Nursing and Jonas Philanthropies believe the investment in the education of nurse leaders is critically important to improve the healthcare system.

“We’re thrilled that Stephanie and David have been recognized as Jonas Nurse Scholars and will receive support for their doctoral studies,” says Nena Peragallo Montano, dean and professor at the UNC School of Nursing. “These awards allow Carolina Nursing to prepare more future nurse leaders and meet pressing health care needs.”

David and Stephanie are part of the new 2021-2023 Jonas Nurse Scholars cohort of more than 75 Scholars pursuing PhD, DNP or EdD degrees at 49 universities across the country whose doctoral work will focus on such critical health priorities as Environmental Health, Vision Health, Psych-Mental Health, and/or Veterans Health. They join more than 1,000 Jonas Scholar alumni representing 157 universities across all 50 states.

“Each year, we grow more in awe of all our Jonas Scholars have achieved. It is with great honor that we welcome and celebrate this new cohort of nurse leaders,” said Donald Jonas, who co-founded Jonas Philanthropies with his late wife Barbara Jonas. “With more than 1,400 Jonas Scholars to date who are committed to meeting the greatest health needs of our time, we look forward to continuing our work with our partner nursing schools and expanding our impact to advance care for the country’s most vulnerable populations.”

Stephanie Betancur was raised by a single father who has worked as an Environmental Services (EVS) worker at a large public hospital for the majority of her life. EVS workers are responsible for keeping areas clean and sanitized, and she realized at a very young age that they often lack necessary resources leading to a healthy life.

“Acceptance into the Jonas Scholar program will enhance my doctoral education and support my leadership development, access to environmental health experts, and provide networking opportunities,” shares Betancur, who plans to continue to develop as an independent nurse researcher, focused on identifying and examining risk factors that predispose EVS workers, like her father, to cancer and other diseases. These findings will lead to design interventions to precisely target risks that contribute to health inequities.

David Chinyeaka Agor’s commitment to caring for vulnerable populations guided his decision to pursue DNP preparation as a psychiatric- mental health (PMH) nurse practitioner. As a Nigerian immigrant, David faced the conventional challenges of rigorous academic programs while also striving to assimilate into American culture. His journey was further marked by his experience as a gay man, often subjected to discrimination and homophobia. His educational experience in the U.S. led him to value community acceptance as it pertains to mental health and wellbeing.

The goal of the Jonas Scholarship is to encourage DNP-prepared nurses to improve outcomes through clinical practice. Clinicians implement interventions in the hope that outcomes for sexual minority groups will be similar to study participants, but most clinical trials underrepresent sexual minority groups, hindering access to quality care. David’s DNP project will focus on acute trauma assessment and intervention among HIV seropositive African-American adolescents.

“My life experiences and values offer a unique opportunity for me to implement practice change to improve the needs of marginalized populations,” says Agor. “The support of the Jonas Nurse Scholars award will help me begin to address this gap in care among highly vulnerable marginalized and underserved ethnic and sexual minority communities suffering from PMH disorders.”