As they pursue careers focused on caring and compassion, the inaugural West Virginia University School of Nursing student ambassadors are already demonstrating their dedication to helping others by sharing their personal experiences and expertise with the next generation of nursing students.
“I just like being of any help I can to students coming in as freshmen,” Ateria Walker, a senior from Wheeling, West Virginia, said. “I remember what it’s like being nervous and not knowing what to expect in college. Being a student ambassador helps give these students and parents perspective, so they’re kind of aware of what they’re coming into with being a student at WVU.”
The ambassador program launched in the fall 2022 semester when school officials sought applications from interested students. Walker, junior Aiden Slusser and sophomore Kylie Dick were selected through a competitive interview process.
Three student ambassador positions are available each academic year on the Morgantown campus, as well as one position each on the School’s Beckley and Keyser campuses. Each ambassador’s responsibilities include working in the Office of Student Services and attending on-campus and virtual events — something Slusser did previously as a volunteer.
“I think it’s important and key for us to talk to these incoming students, that way they really know what they’re getting themselves into and what’s going to happen,” Slusser said.
A native of Fairmont, West Virginia, Slusser said he hopes to work in a surgical intensive care or neurological critical care unit after graduation, while continuing his education to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist.
Private donations support the success of the ambassador program, which provides a $1,000 academic scholarship to each student for the school year. Participating students must be in good academic standing.
“Our ambassadors serve an essential role in informing and inspiring our future nursing students,” Tara Hulsey, dean and E. Jane Martin Endowed Professor, said. “Support for the School of Nursing ambassador program not only impacts the students selected, but also the future of the nursing profession.”
Walker said she is grateful to alumni and donors who support the School of Nursing.
“For students like me, who come from backgrounds where they really don’t have the financial support to attend college without scholarships, their donations change lives,” Walker said. “So, I hope they know that, and I hope they know that they’re greatly appreciated.”
Walker is putting those scholarship dollars to good use. She strives to create positive change on campus as a leader with the Student Nurses Association and founder of the Minorities Association of Pre-Healthcare Students. She also serves as a presidential student ambassador and student ambassador for the WVU Honors College and Health Sciences and Technology Academy Alumni Association.
Walker was recently hired to work in the cardiovascular intensive care unit at J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital post-graduation. She also plans to pursue a doctorate and become a CRNA.
Scholarship support has also been especially important for Dick, who hails from Bowie, Maryland. She was inspired to become a nurse when health professionals visited her high school anatomy class. She was drawn to nursing for its caring aspect, as well as the job security and potential for growth.
She sees the student ambassador program as an opportunity to address growing nursing shortages at the state and national levels by boosting enrollment.
“We’re always going to need nurses,” Dick said. “It’s really important, the donations, so that we can grow this program and just bring in very passionate people to nursing. And, especially during a nursing shortage, we want to make sure that we’re graduating people that are very competent and ready to go into the field.”
To support the School of Nursing student ambassador program and other scholarship opportunities, contact Director of Development Tiffany Samuels at 304-293-2554 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gifts to the School of Nursing are made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.
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