'We believe in them'

CARE Pathway students mark the beginning of the 2023-24 academic year at a community-building event at the Lake Shore Campus.

An anonymous gift of $1 million to the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing will increase access to nursing degrees for students from historically marginalized communities.  

The donation will expand scholarships and financial support to students in the CARE (Collaboration, Access, Resources, and Equity) Pathway to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing, which provides academic, financial, and social assistance to undergraduates of color. 

The gift was unexpected but comes at a key moment for the rapidly expanding program, which has grown from 22 to 60 participants since its launch in 2021. 

“We are beyond grateful for this gift, which will allow us to strengthen the level of support we give to these determined students, who will go on to make a deep impact in their communities,” said Dean Lorna Finnegan.  

The donor, who is remaining anonymous to keep attention focused on the CARE Pathway, said they were inspired to give because of the students’ enthusiasm and dedication to caring for others.  

“We want these students to realize that people want them to succeed. They’re respected and appreciated, and we know they’re going to have a huge impact on the lives of so many other people,” the donor said. “Because of their commitment and their passion, we believe in them.”  

The donor also wanted to support Loyola Nursing’s vision for the CARE Pathway, because “Dr. Finnegan and her staff are creating a program that makes it possible for students to accomplish their dreams.”  

The CARE Pathway was inspired by Loyola’s Arrupe College, an associate’s degree program for students who face significant challenges entering college. While CARE Pathway students come from a range of backgrounds, approximately half are first-generation college students and about one-sixth are Arrupe graduates. 

By helping retain students of color, the CARE Pathway aims to increase the diversity of the nursing workforce. Research shows that patients of color who are treated by nurses of similar backgrounds have better health outcomes, yet the nursing profession remains overwhelmingly white.  

A number of CARE Pathway students are from Chicago and are expected to work in the area after graduation, having an immediate impact on their communities and the Chicagoland health system.  

For many students, the CARE Pathway has been a source of community and support in navigating the unique challenges that come with being a student of color. The program gives participants access to peer mentoring, professional development opportunities, and seminars on topics including mental health and study skills.  

The CARE Pathway received Loyola’s inaugural READI (Racial Justice, Equity, Anti-racism, Diversity, and Inclusion) Catalyst Award from the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in 2023.    

The donor noted that many CARE Pathway students are making significant sacrifices to be in nursing school, often commuting long distances to attend classes. 

According to the donor, the gift will “have a ripple effect as these young nurses graduate. This is a way to impact the lives of all the patients and families who will be served by CARE Pathway nurses.”