Skip Navigation

Recent News

Recent News

The MUSC College of Nursing had the distinct honor of awarding six new scholarships this fall in fulfillment of our Take Nursing Higher scholarship campaign. The campaign aims to raise $1 million in scholarship funding to help our state’s best and brightest nursing students achieve their dreams of becoming nurses. Thank you to our faculty, staff, alumni, and donors who have participated in the Take Nursing Higher campaign. The following scholarships are made possible through your generous support!

Olivette Garr Smith Scholarship - This merit based scholarship was awarded for the first time in August to Madison Wuller, a BSN student from Overland Park, KS. Olivette Garr Smith graduated from MUSC’s College of Nursing in 1947 and went on to work at both St. Francis Hospital and The Citadel. She passed away in February 2018 leaving behind an incredible nursing legacy and several loving friends and family members. One of those friends is Mervyn Juchartz, also from the class of 1947, who was so moved by her friendship with Smith that she began the Olivette Garr Smith Scholarship that awards an incoming or returning College of Nursing student enrolled in any program. 

Eleanor Shealy Adeimy Scholarship - Inspired by the events of September 11, 2001, Toyanna McElhenny wanted to spend her adult years in service to others. She began her health care career as an EMT and later attended Midlands Technical College, graduating with with her nursing license in 2016. Afterwards, she worked in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital in Columbia, SC, but decided to enroll in MUSC’s RN to BSN program in order to further her education and practice at a higher level of nursing care. She is the first recipient of the Eleanor Shealy Adeimy Scholarship, a merit based scholarship available to students in the RN-BSN program. Dorothy Taylor, daughter of Adeimy (a 1943 graduate), started this scholarship in her mother’s honor earlier this year as a way to celebrate her many career accomplishments.

Dr. Heidar A. Modaresi Nursing Scholarship - This scholarship was established in the fall of 2017 by both Heidar A. Modaresi, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, and his daughter, Anahita Modaresi, the director of development in the College of Nursing. Inspired by the quality nursing care Modaresi received throughout his life, this scholarship is one of the college’s first aimed at helping underrepresented minority students achieve their dream of pursuing a career in nursing. It’s first recipient is Danielle Ravenell, a BSN student, from Maplewood, NJ. Ravenell received her undergraduate degree in 2014 from the University of South Carolina in athletic training before enrolling in the BSN program. She is the president of the college’s Student Government Association and is one of this year’s Dean’s Scholarship Reception speakers. Ravenell’s interest is in acute care and she plans to pursue her DNP and work as an acute care nurse practitioner. 

Dr. Deborah C. Williamson Nursing Scholarship - Deborah Williamson, DHA, MSN, RN, is no stranger to MUSC. After 46 years in nursing and 31 years in the college she retired in June. For many years, she served as the faculty leader for the Hispanic Health Initiative Scholars, an honors clinical group of BSN students who explore health issues in the local Latino community. Her passion for serving our state’s Latino community led her to lead a statewide initiative for improving the health and well-being of young Latino families in South Carolina. During her academic career at MUSC, she served in numerous roles, most recently, she served as the associate dean for practice.
     In honor of Williamson’s many accomplishments in the field of nursing, David Garr, MD, began a scholarship in his wife’s name. The Dr. Deborah C. Williamson Nursing Scholarship is given to a DNP student in their second year who has an interest in primary care in underserved populations. Lenora Butterbaugh is the inaugural recipient of this award. Butterbaugh is from Orange City, FL and is enrolled in the DNP program in the FNP track. She has an interest in serving under resourced communities through primary care. She received an associate’s degree from Daytona State College, her BSN from Bethune-Cookman University, and is on track to graduate with a DNP degree from MUSC in 2021.

Gail W. Stuart Scholarship - This scholarship was established in 2017 in honor of the college’s former dean, Gail W. Stuart, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, and her many contributions to the field of nursing and to the college. Stuart, the College of Nursing’s longest serving dean, led the nursing school from 2002 until 2018 until her retirement in June. She made significant contributions to psychiatric mental health nursing during her 47 year nursing career. While at MUSC she taught in undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs in nursing and served on numerous academic, corporate and government boards. She also has represented nursing on a variety of National Institute of Mental Health and National Institute of Nursing Research policy and research panels.
     Imani Fickling is the Gail W. Stuart Scholarship’s first recipient. She is from Oakland, CA and is pursuing her Ph.D. in nursing science. Fickling is no stranger to Charleston or MUSC as she received her undergraduate degree in 2009 from the College of Charleston and her BSN in 2012 from the College of Nursing. She went on to earn a master’s degree from the University of California in 2017. From there she enrolled in the college’s Ph.D. program and is scheduled to graduate in 2020. 

Amelia Kaasa Rowland Scholarship - Tamara Washington entered the BSN program in fall 2017 while working as a patient care technician at Roper Hospital. Washington’s focus is to bridge the communication gap between doctors and minority patients, and she has worked diligently to alleviate anxiety for minority patients who may not understand medical terminology. She has a heart for helping others especially diverse populations with medical needs. For this very reason, Washington was awarded the first Amelia Kaasa Rowland Scholarship. This scholarship is in honor of Amelia Kaasa Rowland, a 2005 graduate, and is given to a student who is a single parent in good standing with the college. Rowland’s parents, Dr. and Mrs. Laurin Kaasa, began this scholarship as a way to acknowledge their daughter’s hard work and success as a nurse midwife and to help nursing students achieve their dreams of becoming a nurse. During her time in the college, Rowland received scholarship money to help ease the financial burden of tuition. This year the family decided it was time to pay it forward and return the generousity that was shown to Rowland.

 A huge thank you to these donors and their newly formed scholarships and too all our scholarship donors for their continuous support! The MUSC College of Nursing awarded more than $300,000 in scholarships this fall due in part to the generosity of our supporters. If you would like to learn more about the Take Nursing Higher campaign or would like to contribute to a nursing scholarship, visit our website or call our Office of Development at 843-792-8421.




                                                                                        Renee Black (left) with Erica Tollerson

From Scholarship to Friendship

By Sarah Schwartz, Development Associate, College of Nursing
Education, respect, diligence, and kindness have remained core values in Renée Black’s family throughout the generations. 
“My grandmother would always say, ‘Sit straight, respect yourself, seek success, and be kind to others,’’’ laughed Black, “and that has had a huge impact on how I live.” 
Those values continue to live on today through the Marie LePrince Farmer Scholarship, which Black established in her paternal grandmother’s memory to help first-generation college graduates and single parents who might otherwise be unable to attend nursing school. 
Black became involved with the College of Nursing in 2013 at the suggestion of a friend who served on the college’s advisory board. The college’s national rankings and five degree programs impressed Black, who is a nurse herself, though she would later make a career in the biotechnology industry. 
“Involvement with the college seemed to be an incredible opportunity to help others,” she shared. In addition to her financial support, Black gave her time and talents through her service on the college’s advisory board from 2013 to 2017.
Black has met with almost every scholarship recipient since the fund’s creation five years ago and has come to serve as a resource and mentor to many.
One of those students was Erica Tollerson, BSN, who received the Marie LePrince Farmer scholarship at the MUSC College of Nursing in fall 2016. 
Tollerson took advantage of Black’s offer to keep in touch, and the two met regularly during Tollerson’s time at the college. “I loved that Renée was willing to meet with me and talk. It meant I had someone to get advice from and to share my experiences with who understood because they had walked this same path.” 
The two have continued their friendship beyond Tollerson’s graduation, talking regularly on the phone and sharing meals when possible. 
Tollerson’s hard work and dedication paid off in 2017 as she graduated and shortly thereafter assumed a position with MUSC Health. Tollerson attributes her success to her parents and Black, as well as others who supported her throughout the program. 
When asked what they each wanted to share with those considering scholarships or donations to the College of Nursing, Tollerson stated, “Scholarships give students a sense of balance and instill the truth that we have the resources to achieve our dream.” Black shared, “If you are graced with the ability to contribute monetary gifts, you should. Scholarships change lives.” Looking at Tollerson, Black added one last remark, “and she will no doubt change many lives.”
When asked what the scholarship meant to her, Tollerson smiled and looked back at Black, saying, “At the moment, it meant I could go to school and not worry about the financial burden that comes with enrolling in any program. Now, it means that I have gained a friendship, one that will last a lifetime!”
On an August 23, under a blue summer sky, 92 students were officially welcomed to the College of Nursing as part of its traditional white coat and stethoscope ceremony. Dean Linda Weglicki, PhD, RN, pinned new accelerated BSN students with a “Keeping Healthcare Human” lapel pin on their new white lab coat, while Felesia Bowen, Ph.D., DNP, APRN, director of undergraduate programs, and Jerry Mansfield, Ph.D., RN, executive chief nursing officer at the MUSC Medical Center, presented each student with a stethoscope. This cohort will finish their studies in 16 months and graduate in December 2019.   
More than 50 years ago, incoming nursing students were recognized through nursing’s traditional capping ceremony where they received a nurses cap. Today, in place of a cap, the college recognizes the undergraduate students with a more modern welcoming gift, a stethoscope and a pin that symbolizes behaviors between nurses and their patients that is respectful and compassionate.
The College of Nursing held the Pinning Ceremony for 42 graduates of the RN to BSN degree program on August 16 at St. Luke’s Chapel. After a warm welcome from Dean Linda Weglicki, Ph.D., RN, Associate Professor Teresa Stephens, Ph.D., RN, delivered an inspiring keynote address to the audience. 
Several graduates were invited to join Sigma Theta Tau, the International Honor Society for Nursing, including Allyson Reser Ackerman, Blair Elizabeth Bartleson, Catherine Jean Bellamy, Kristen Kelly Grooms, Deronda Sarah Marie Wilson Honig, Jeannine Linomontes, Robyn K. McBeath, Jason Ricky Smith, Doug Tolerton, Rochelle Worley and Shannon Lee Zeilinger.
The Pinning Ceremony marks the passage from the student role to the practice role, a tradition that dates back to the 1860s when Florence Nightingale awarded symbolic medals to nurses who helped her care for soldiers during the Crimean War.

Two graduates of the CON’s PhD program, Rebecca Freeman, PhD ‘13, RN, PMP, and Dru Riddle, PhD ‘15, DNP, CRNA, will be inducted in the American Academy of Nursing. The organization selected 195 Academy fellows to represent the 2018 class. Inductees will be honored at a ceremony in November at the Academy’s annual policy conference, Transforming Health, Driving Policy, in Washington, D.C in November.



Desiree Bertrand, PhD ‘18, RN, a 2016 American Academy of Nursing Jonas Policy Scholar, has co-authored two papers in Nursing Outlook.

• Perez, G.A., Rose, K.M., Caceres, B.A., Spurlock, W., Bowers, B., Lutz, B., Arslanian-Engoren, C., Reuter-Rice, K., Bressler, T., Wicks, M., Taylor, D., Johnson-Mallard, V., Kostas-Polston, E., Hagan, T., Bertrand, D., Reinhard, S.C. (2018). Position statement: Policies to support family caregivers. Nursing Outlook, 66 (3), 337-340. doi:

• Wicks, M.N., Alejandro, J., Bertrand, D., Boyd, C.J., Coleman, C.L., Haozous, E., Meade, C.D., Meek, P.M. (2018). Achieving advance care planning in diverse, underserved populations. Nursing Outlook, 66 (3), 311-315. doi:






MUSC’s RN-BSN program is unique in many ways as we strive to individualize the learning experiences to build on previous knowledge and to increase the scope of practice for each learner. During the third (and final) semester, students develop a QI project, working collaboratively with other students, faculty, practice partners, and community stakeholders. These projects are the culmination of the learning and professional growth that has occurred over the previous semesters. Led by Elaine Amella, PhD, RN, Brantlee Broome, PhD, RN, and Tese Stephens, PhD, RN, 42 students worked diligently over the summer to develop five projects that show great potential to improve the quality and safety of practice. These projects were recently on display at the Nursing Showcase, held on June 27 on MUSC’s Greenway, as part of MUSC’s Nursing Shared Governance Council. Three groups of students worked on the Imagine U: Building WellBeing Together employee wellness program, as part of MUSC’s Imagine 2020 initiative to build healthier communities. Students designed and implemented mobile screenings as part of their QI project. Working from the perspective of process improvement, RN-BSN students, along with faculty and ABSN students, conducted three mobile screenings on June 26, resulting in a wealth of data that will inform future Imagine U initiatives. Not only did they provide health screenings to over 70 MUSC employees, the faculty and students from the CON had the opportunity to collaborate with Imagine U key personnel and to interact with employees from across campus. As we strive to Change What’s Possible, our RN-BSN program is prioritizing compassion, integrity, respect, collaboration, and innovation.





Amanda Turner (left) and Millie Pochet

While working as a clinical nurse instructor in the Transitional Care Unit at MUHA (MUSC Health), College of Nursing alumnus, Lana Beckely MSN, PT, RN (MSN, ‘95) discovered one of her nursing students, Millie Pochet, was quite dynamic and very fluent in Spanish. Beckley had an upcoming mission trip to Peru planned, and asked Pochet if she would be interested in going with her. Pochet was interested and asked if fellow nursing student Amanda (Mandie) Turner could go as well. Turner was a seasoned missionary, but this was to be Pochet’s first trip. On September 26, 2009, the three women flew to Lima, Peru to meet the other members of the team for the first time. 

“Our team included a cardiologist, a physician’s assistant, an engineer, three nurses, two nursing students (Mandie and Millie) and a naval architect,” Beckley explained. “Once reaching Puerto Maldonado, we became a well-oiled wheel. We treated over 800 people in different areas ranging from cities to jungle villages.”

Beckley felt like a proud mother watching and listening to the students care for and evaluate the people of Peru. “Millie and Mandie learned so much, yet had a great knowledge of how to meet, greet and embrace their patients,” she said. “The students used their insight and education to improvise when necessary and solidify their treatment suggestions. I can’t say enough positive things about Millie and Mandie. They both went with the flow and experienced some very rough conditions to say the least. I hope to continue taking the MUSC College of Nursing students with me on future medical trips. I value the standard of student the College of Nursing creates and I am a proud alumnus as well.”

Health Care in Peru: A Story of Injustice

By Amanda Turner (written while a fourth semester Accelerated BSN student.)

We’ll call her Sofia. She is seven. About a year ago, her parents noticed that there was something wrong with her, but like many of the rural poor in Peru, they decided to use their money for food rather than a doctor. However, after months of watching their daughter grow weaker, Sofia’s parents saved up their money and took her to the big hospital in Lima. Unfortunately, the hospital doctors were not used to treating children and misdiagnosed her with tuberculosis. Her parents borrowed as much money as they could and paid for the extensive series of injections to cure their daughter only to watch as she grew sicker and sicker. With no money left to find, let alone treat another diagnosis, they returned to their village.            

A few months later, word spread that the village church would be hosting a group of doctors and nurses from the United States, and they brought Sofia. At registration, her father only asked for vitamins and parasite medicine, perhaps knowing that whatever was eating away at their daughter was going to be more than they could afford to cure anyway. When the little girl ducked under the tarp that lent a scanty sense of privacy to our small, dirt floor exam room, I would have thought she was about five. She perched on the chair next to me, exposing massively enlarged cervical lymph nodes bulging out above her shirt and making her small arms look even smaller. It seemed every lymph node on her body was visibly enlarged. Her liver was palpable almost at her waistline and her spleen was spilling out of its safe hiding place behind her ribs. She swung her feet nervously as her father paced in front of us.

He brought us all of her medical records and sat quietly under the avocado tree while we deciphered the numbers and long words. Hypereosinophilia. Adenitis Granulomatosa. Preziquantel. Ceftrixasona. Hematocrito 25. Hemoglobina 6.5. These words meant nothing to him. I carried the papers back out to him. The women sitting near him on the bench subtly turned to the side to give him privacy, but their ears were still obviously tuned to our conversation. His eyes met mine and then fell. He knew the answer. There was nothing we could do. He only wanted to know one thing. “Is she dying because of the tuberculosis treatment?”

The thought of being partially responsible for her suffering was more than he could bear, but he seemed to receive little comfort from my reassurance that the injections had not harmed her. I handed him all we had to offer: some children’s vitamins and a few extra bags of chewable acetaminophen. In that moment there was a mutual understanding between us. His strong exterior could not hide the pain of the impossibility of the situation and I did not even try to hide mine. I bent over to kiss Sofia’s head.

He shook my hand and carried her home.

While our team was able to do nothing for Sofia, we were able to bring health and hope to many people in Peru. It is our hope that by sharing our story, others will be inspired to do more than we could.



To all faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors and friends of the MUSC College of Nursing,

I am writing to say hello and introduce myself as your new dean of the MUSC College of Nursing – a role I began just one month ago. During my first few weeks on campus, I was struck by the profound sense of community here at MUSC – among the faculty, staff, and students. My singular focus for the next few months will be learning how I can support and enhance the priorities, strengths, and work in all areas of the college. As I am new to the Charleston area, I bring to my role in the College of Nursing and my work with you, new ideas and perspectives viewed through a different lens, from which to build upon and set the direction for the future. The MUSC College of Nursing has such a long history and rich tradition of prominence and excellence, led by outstanding faculty and staff and talented, diverse, and high performing students. I believe together we can collectively and collaboratively build upon the many past successes in order to shape our vision and achieve our mission for the future of the college and that supports the discipline. 

I was born and raised in Michigan, where I completed my nursing education, began a clinical practice, taught for 20 years, and developed a research program in health promotion and risk reduction working with urban at-risk populations. 

In 2008, I moved to Maryland after I accepted a position at the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Nursing Research (NIH/NINR) as a health scientist administrator. It was here that I developed and implemented research opportunities focused on health promotion and wellness grant- and contract-supported research activities designed to meet the nation’s health needs and NINR science priorities in the areas of women, infant, child, and family health.

Three years later, I was appointed the chief of the Office of Extramural Programs (OEP), of NINR’s Division of Extramural Activities. In this role, I managed NINR’s extramural scientific portfolio and served as the primary point of contact for the OEP and the extramural community – including networking and mentoring leading nurse scientists and investigators who were advancing nursing science. 

In 2014, I moved to Florida and accepted the position of professor and Schmidt Family Foundation Distinguished Professor and associate dean of nursing research and scholarship and Ph.D. studies in the College of Nursing at Florida Atlantic University. In this role, my priority was devoted to faculty and doctoral student mentorship and in enhancing a culture of research and research productivity to support the research mission of the college and university. 

Over the years, I have mentored many students from undergraduate honors students to post-doctorates and faculty from very young to seasoned researchers, and together we published in a variety of interdisciplinary journals. My publications and professional research presentations have included studies of risky behavior in youth and young adults, eHealth applications to promote health among older adults, and environmental risks associated with air pollution. I am an advocate of interdisciplinary research collaborations and partnerships to promote team science and translational research.

I received my BSN and MSN degrees from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan and my Ph.D. in nursing (health promotion/risk reduction/prevention) from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. My research has focused on health promotion in ethnically diverse urban populations and included collaborations with international researchers, with the findings relevant for clinicians and researchers alike.

My husband, Larry, is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and has extensive experience in internal controls/auditing. He continues to work in Florida for the Miami-Dade County Office of The Inspector General. He previously held positions at the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Department of Energy, the Internal Revenue Service, General Motors Corporation, The Detroit Edison Company, and Chrysler Corporation. We have two adult children. Our son, David, is a radiologist, who lives in Illinois, and our daughter, Michelle, is a tax analyst, who recently moved to Mt. Pleasant from Florida. In addition to my professional interests, I enjoy gardening and cooking. My family is the center of my universe, they are my heart and soul, and they keep me grounded as well as motivate me to be true to myself and have always supported me in pursuing my professional goals. 

As a new dean, I know that I have a steep learning curve and I will need your assistance. I will look to the faculty and staff to help me navigate this amazing new journey – a journey we will travel together. I also look forward to connecting with the college’s alumni community and making personal connections. I encourage all graduates to reach out. I welcome your thoughts, reflections, and ideas as we move forward to achieve a shared vision for the future of South Carolina’s premier nursing college. Once again, I am honored to have been selected to serve as the next dean of the College of Nursing, and I look forward to becoming part of the MUSC family.



Linda Weglicki, PhD, RN
Dean, MUSC College of Nursing




Medical mission trip enlightens nursing students

by Page Wise, BSN Class of May '18
Never in my life have I committed so impulsively to traveling to a foreign country as I did this past July. Cameron Mercer, my good friend and classmate, told me that I needed to go with her on a medical mission trip to Nicaragua over our Christmas break. I honestly cannot remember a holiday season when I was not working, so I fully intended on enjoying this rare break. But I am the type of person who gets restless when I do not have anything to do, and with nearly a month of downtime, I mulled it over, came to a decision, and told myself, “Just go!” This trip was the perfect opportunity to combine my passion for health and wellness with my desire to connect with and help those in need. 
Anxious to put my medical training and education to work in a place that needed it, I researched areas of the world that were limited in resources and lacked in quality health care.
I selected Nicaragua, the poorest country in Central America. With the mortality rate of Nicaraguan children at four times that of the U.S., quality health care is urgently needed to treat preventable diseases, such as pneumonia, diarrhea, and malnutrition. 
It was decided. Cameron and I were headed to Nicaragua for eight days. 
The purpose of the mission trip is to provide quality, accessible health care to rural Nicaraguan communities, and our timing could not have been better. In October 2017, a tropical storm caused a significant amount of damage to various Nicaraguan regions, including Rivas, the region in which we were staying. As a result of the flooding, rural communities suffered devastating loss and damage to their churches, homes, farmland, crops, and roads. Each day we set up our mobile healthcare clinic in different villages, expanding OneWorld Health’s reach.
Our stellar mission team was made up of 39 volunteers whose professions include but are not limited to: MDs, DNPs, PAs, OB-GYNs, RNs, pharmacists, dentists, hygienists, students, business managers, educators, sales representatives, photographers, videographers, etc. Everyone brought something unique to the table, and as a team, we complemented each other well. It was surprising how quickly we formed meaningful friendships and how easily we worked together. Once our team came together, we met our translation team and began working closely with them; we staffed multiple rural outreach clinics and successfully treated a variety of common medical conditions (i.e., joint pain/swelling, allergies, intestinal parasites, dental cleanings/extractions, prenatal care, etc.). 
Cameron and I were the only students in the nursing team, and we were excited about the opportunity to dive-in and independently triage patients, provide preventative primary care, as well as serve as pharmacy technicians. Having this chance to apply what we have learned and to challenge ourselves in a foreign country, reaffirmed the decision I made to go back to school and pursue a career in nursing. It was like a scene from a movie where life pauses and there is this moment of realization. I was becoming who I was meant to be, I was where I was supposed to be, and I was doing what I was meant to be doing. 
Even though the rural villages faced such loss in their community, they were so appreciative of our efforts, so much so that they were waiting outside the clinics to greet us in the mornings before we arrived, worked to unload medical supplies, helped set up our clinic layout, and assisted in breaking down at the end of the day. Not once did their faces break from smiles, nor did I hear any complaints about how long the wait was, the heat, no access to clean drinking water, or having to void in a hole in the ground with nothing but a bed sheet to provide some privacy.  
At the end of our first day, an 11-year-old girl walked into the church just as we were packing up the bus. She was holding hands with her 70-year-old blind grandfather as she guided him into the church. They had just walked five miles to see us. It filled their hearts with joy when we told them we would gladly see him. Our team came together seamlessly to ensure this gentleman was given the time and care he deserved. Unbeknownst to us, one of the providers went outside and managed to arrange a ride home for him on an oxen-cart. The next day, one of our nurses gave the shoes off her feet to a woman who needed them more. 
It was a privilege visiting these rural villages and being immersed in Nicaraguan culture, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to practice my Spanish with my patients, who were extremely patient and genuinely kind-hearted people. Being able to connect with, care for, and learn from our patients was a gift. I will be a better nurse because of it. In just four and half days, we treated about 1,000 patients!
Our last night I was walking back to my room, and I thought how amazing it was that even though we were working, from sun up to sun down, instead of feeling exhausted, I felt rejuvenated. Thirty-nine volunteers, ranging in age, culture, religion, race, ethnicity, and practices, traveled from all over the U.S. to come together so that we could attempt to do something amazing, and that is exactly what we did. I have never felt that kind of humanity before and it truly did awaken my soul.
Oct 2018