$250,000 gift will provide scholarships to Kearney nursing students

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The Kathryn M. Reynolds Fund, which will be used to provide scholarships to nursing students.

A $250,000 gift from the estate of Kathryn Reynolds to the University of Nebraska Foundation will support students in the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing Kearney Division.

The gift, to be announced Monday at the College of Nursing luncheon in Kearney, establishes the Kathryn M. Reynolds Fund, which will be used to provide scholarships to nursing students.

Reynolds, a native of Elm Creek, Neb., graduated with a bachelor of arts in nursing degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in 1961. She worked at Kearney’s Good Samaritan Hospital for more than 25 years before retiring in 1989.

While at Good Samaritan, Reynolds coordinated clinicals for Kearney State College nursing students and worked closely with faculty to develop and enhance the college’s nursing program.

In 1974, a study on the state of nursing in the area found only four bachelor’s prepared nurses in 23 surrounding counties. Reynolds was one of those four nurses.

“Kathryn was a bachelor’s prepared nurse who understood the positive impact bachelor’s prepared nurses make in the lives of patients,” says Steven Pitkin, assistant dean at the College of Nursing Kearney Division. “Her legacy will increase the number of bachelor’s prepared nurses in the Central Nebraska region.”

Today, 82 of Nebraska’s 93 counties have a lower than national average ratio of registered nurses to patients, and more than one-third of Nebraska’s counties have no nurse practitioners. Estimates show that by the year 2020, Nebraska will have a shortage of about 3,800 registered nurses.

“The College of Nursing at UNMC is extraordinarily grateful for Ms. Reynolds’ generosity and foresight in knowing how important her gift will be to the future of nursing,” says Juliann Sebastian, dean of the UNMC College of Nursing. “This gift provides much needed scholarship monies for nursing students at the Kearney Division, making it easier for them to focus on their studies and prepare to provide excellent nursing care. Scholarship funds are vital to helping students focus on the complex clinical and theoretical learning that is required.

“On behalf of the UNMC College of Nursing faculty and staff at the Kearney Division, I would like to say how grateful we are for Ms. Reynolds’ extremely generous gift and legacy to the future of health care.”

Reynolds passed away in July, 2010. Several of her family members will be in attendance at Monday’s luncheon when the scholarship fund is announced.

“Everything she (Reynolds) had was thanks to her education at UNMC. Her intent of this gift was to provide financial support for students to receive training, and to give others the same opportunities she had,” says Cindy Houlden, Reynolds’ niece, of Kearney, Neb. “This is a way for her legacy to live on.”

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