Jul 28, 2014
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Nursing Students Receive Nightingale Scholarships

Nursing Students Receive Nightingale Scholarships

New Haven (April 14, 2014) – John R. Quinn, President & CEO of the Visiting Nurse Association of South Central Connecticut (VNA/SCC), has announced that five local nursing students: Debra Bagni, Mary Gallagher, Rachel Henderson, Mellissa LaParre, and Melanie Powers, will each receive a $1,200 scholarship through the Nightingale Awards for Excellence in Nursing program. 

The Nightingale Awards for Excellence in Nursing program was originally developed by the VNA/SCC to be a collaborative effort to celebrate outstanding nurses and elevate the nursing profession. The goals of the program are to encourage retention, focus public attention, recognize the breadth and scope of nursing practice at the local level, and inspire future nurses. To help achieve these goals, for the past ten years, the Nightingale program has provided scholarships to outstanding students from five local nursing schools: Gateway Community College - Department of Nursing, Quinnipiac University - School of Nursing, Sacred Heart University - School of Nursing, Southern Connecticut State University - Department of Nursing, and the Yale University School of Nursing.

Debra Bagni, the recipient from Gateway Community College, is a member of the American Nurses Association, National Student Nurse Association, GCC Student Nurse Association, and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and has served as the student class representative for the past two years. She is described by Sheila Solernou, MSN, RN, Division Director, Nursing as a student who “always seeks additional learning experiences on the unit and eagerly assists peers and staff at any time with their assignment.”

Melanie Powers, the recipient from Quinnipiac University, is an active member of Kappa Alpha Theta, recent inductee into the Tau Rho Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, and is involved with Best Buddies events through Quinnipiac. She is described by Professor Lisa O’Connor, BS, MS, EdD as “organized, professional, and has a wonderful presence with her patients.” 

Mellissa LaParre, the recipient from Sacred Heart University, is a member of the Thomas More Honors Program, Nursing Honor Society (Sigma Theta Tau International), National Student Nurses Association, and the National Honors Society of Catholic Universities and Colleges (Delta Epsilon Sigma). She is described by Audrey Beauvais, DNP, MSN, MBA, RN, CNL, Director of the Undergraduate Nursing Program and Assistant Professor as “caring, empathetic, and sensitive to the needs of the patients.” 

Rachel Henderson, the recipient from Southern Connecticut State University, is a former EMT with Hunter’s Ambulance and continued on to become a Paramedic. Rachel describes nursing as a field that “makes me feel like I’d finally come home.” She is described by Department Chairperson Lisa Ribeschi, RN, MSN, CNE, as “going beyond the expectations as a strong support for her peers, readily sharing her knowledge and abilities.”

Mary Gallagher, the recipient from Yale University, is a full-time graduate nursing student with a Master’s degree in Public Health. Mary has worked as a registered nurse at the Yale Health Plan in addition to holding many volunteer positions in the New Haven Community. Associate Professor of Nursing, Mikki Meadows-Oliver, MPH, PhD, RN, says that Mary is “dedicated to both her academic workload, her work as a nurse, and her volunteer commitments.”

All 2014 scholarship recipients will be honored at a special reception hosted by the VNA/SCC on April 15. In addition, thanks to the generosity of Platinum sponsor Yale-New Haven Hospital, they will be recognized at the Nightingale Awards for Excellence in Nursing, which will be held on Thursday, May 8 at Anthony’s Ocean View in New Haven.

For more information about the Nightingale Awards for Excellence in Nursing, including sponsorship information and how to purchase tickets, visit the Nightingale website at http://www.nightingalenursingawards.org/index.php/home-newhavenor call the Nightingale hotline at 203-859-6765.

To make a contribution to the VNA/SCC in support of this important event, please contact Melissa Healy, Community Development Specialist, at 203-859-6054.

The Evolution of the Nightingale Awards for Excellence in Nursing


The Nightingale Awards for Excellence in Nursing program was developed in 2001 out of a desire to celebrate and elevate the nursing profession. As a nursing organization with more than a century of service, the Visiting Nurse Association of South Central Connecticut (VNA/SCC) took the lead in creating the award ceremony. The Nightingale vision was quickly embraced by the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, Yale-New Haven Hospital and The Hospital of Saint Raphael, whose financial support brought the idea to fruition.

In 2003, the program grew to include concurrent galas in the Hartford, Norwich-New London, and Stamford regions, as well as the original program in New Haven. The Nightingale Awards for Excellence in Nursing is open and inclusive of all health care settings—hospitals, home health care, health centers, schools, health departments, long-term care, nursing schools, medical practices and more. In 2014 the Nightingale Awards for Excellence in Nursing will be held in three locations; Hartford, New Haven, and New London.

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