Dedrick Hines: paying it forward with the MENTORS program

Dedrick Hines was just starting his nursing journey in the accelerated BSN program here at UNC when he got some unexpected good news. Dr. Shielda Rodgers, Assistant Dean for Inclusive Excellence, approached Hines about taking part in the MENTORS2 program — a program designed to increase the percentage and retention of UNC School of Nursing students from underrepresented ethnic minority groups and disadvantaged backgrounds through a multi-pronged approach aimed at minimizing the negative impact of social determinants on academic success.

“It sounded too good to be true,” he says, “It is an awesome program…it afforded me so many great opportunities.”

With a primary emphasis on mentoring through peers, success and wellness coaches, faculty, and nurses from across the professional spectrum, the program aims to provide individualized support and strategies to improve academic outcomes for these student populations within the UNC SON, and ultimately to fill a much-needed pipeline of nurses of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds to serve the population at large.

“The MENTORS2 program played a vital role in my nursing profession. This program connected me to other minority students, encouraged me to get involved with other nursing organizations, boosted my leadership skills, and prepared me for the NCLEX. The MENTORS2 program provided funding that I desperately needed to make it through my last two semesters. It also paid for my NCLEX review program.”

Now that he is working in the medical surgical unit at UNC Hospitals, Hines wants to help other future nurses jumpstart their careers too, so he started his own initiative called the Pay It Forward Scholarship.

“Since graduating, I have given out 10 scholarships to UNC senior nursing students that I’ve raised through fundraising events and donations. It is called the Pay It Forward Scholarship. The scholarship funds help pay for the NCLEX, and other necessities that nursing students need to transition to become successful nurses. I started the scholarship foundation because I was inspired by the MENTORS2 program and lack of financial aid options with the ASBN program. I simply wanted to create a way to help out students in tight financial situations.”

“The reaction I get from students getting random scholarships are priceless. The recipients tell me that they are thankful, happy, in shock, and glad to have some financial relief. I also reach out to all of the recipients every few months and offer them mentors in similar fields and guidance in other walks of life. Once you have received the scholarship, you are encouraged to help with the fundraising for the next nursing class. I hope to grow the scholarship movement so that one day the entire class will receive a scholarship.”

Hines and his wife (who is also a nurse) just welcomed a baby daughter into their family and have plans to do some travel nursing. Ultimately Hines wants to get his DNP and open up their own practice.

“My ultimate goal in nursing is to get my DNP and partner with my wife to start a preventative health facility. I want to create a space that provides preventative health screenings, meal plan guidance, nutritional bags, host exercise classes, and much more.”