USM Nursing Student Wins National Scholarship

Morgan Bickerstaff, a 27-year-old USM nursing student from New Gloucester, was recently awarded the American Red Cross Jane Delano Student Nursing Scholarship.  The $3,000 award will be distributed to Bickerstaff as she works her way through USM’s Accelerated Nursing Program this year.  Bickerstaff also is invited to a national recognition ceremony in Washington D.C. this coming spring.

Bickerstaff attended Simmons College for her undergraduate degree, completing a double major in philosophy and psychology.  She then went on to work at the American Red Cross in 2005, working her way up to becoming an emergency services director her last year there.  After five years at the Red Cross she decided to pursue nursing, and began her first semester at USM this summer.

For the scholarship, Bickerstaff needed two letters of recommendation, one from the Executive Director at the local Chapter of the Red Cross, and one from Professor Krista Meinersmann, director and associate professor of nursing at USM.  She also needed to write a short essay about her experiences in the Red Cross and how her future plans would benefit the nursing profession. Although the scholarship is open to any nursing student who has completed a year of volunteer work with the Red Cross, there were only three chosen for the award in the nation.

Bickerstaff is enrolled in USM’s Accelerated Bachelor’s in Nursing Program.  This accelerated degree program is designed for students who do not hold an undergraduate degree in nursing, but want to become certified as adult, family and women’s practitioners.

The nurse for whom the scholarship is named, Jane Delano, was a leading pioneer of the modern nursing profession.  Delano’s most notable accomplishment is the creation of American Red Cross Nursing in 1909.  Delano created the plan for the first volunteer nursing unit of the American Red Cross.

This scholarship, established in 2001, serves to commemorate Delano’s hard work and dedication to the American Red Cross and the nursing profession in general.  “I had to research her before I applied.  I got to learn a lot through the scholarship,” says Bickerstaff, who confesses she had never heard of Delano before applying for the scholarship, “I’m all set for my next term paper!”

Bickerstaff admits that she is most excited for the trip to Washington D.C.  Nurses from around the country will be in attendance, and Bickerstaff is anxious to “work side-by-side with my mentors!”  Bickerstaff said she currently is planning to go into emergency medicine or field work but also would like the opportunity to work with veterans.  Although she admittedly still has a lot to figure out, she is very excited about where nursing will take her.  “It’s very exciting.  It’s definitely something I’m passionate about.”

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