The students who came into the nurse’s office at P.S. duPont Middle School in Wilmington, Del., would invariably begin playing with a stethoscope, testing their pulse oximetry or taking their temperatures. Richele Lawson, RN, the school nurse, would notice and begin talking to them about pursuing a career in nursing. Oh, I’m not smart enough. My family can’t afford to send me to college. Their concerns sounded familiar to Ms. Lawson, who was raised by a single parent and felt like she didn’t have the brains or bucks to become a healthcare professional. Hearing those same assumptions from her students triggered her to act. “I’d tell them, ‘You are smart enough and with the right grades you can go to school for free,’” she says.
Students in Delaware, through the Student Excellence Equals Degree (SEED) program, can qualify for scholarships to Delaware State University, Delaware Technical Community College and the University of Delaware Associates in Arts Program if they maintain a 2.5 GPA in high school. “I knew we had to educate students about their options before their freshman year, so they were aware of the grades they had to maintain,” says Ms. Lawson. “I wanted to give them the knowledge and confidence to know they can become nurses.”