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GCC receives $1 million gift to support nursing education

This is the first time there has ever been an endowed faculty position at a Massachusetts community college.

The fund will permanently pay for a faculty position — the Jean Simmons Endowed Chair in Nurse Education, named after a longtime GCC nurse educator.

Because the endowment will pay for the position, the school will be able to use $50,000 each year for a nursing career adviser and provide 23 annual scholarships.

Some of those scholarships will be for students who have earned their associate degrees and want to pursue bachelor of science nursing degrees — the entry-level preparation required for hospital positions, according to GCC Chief Academic and Student Affairs Officer Sheryl Hruska.

GCC officials said that the school will soon announce partnerships with other colleges, which will allow students to work toward their nursing bachelor degrees at the community college.

“The people who made this gift care so deeply and passionately about education and the health care of our community,” GCC President Robert Pura, said in a prepared statement. “The scholarships made possible by this gift are a wonderful opportunity for GCC nurses to aspire to and have support for the next step in their professional growth and academic pursuits.”

Simmons — the first nursing program applicant to be admitted as a GCC nursing student and a graduate of the program’s first class in 1965 — taught at the school for decades and went on to serve as coordinator of the associate of science nursing program from 1998 to 2003. She worked in hospitals for 35 years.

“But really it is a tribute to GCC’s nursing program, former and current faculty members, and the many graduates who work in our community and those who have risen to high levels in a variety of nursing roles,” she added. “This tremendous gift, which supports articulation in nursing education, shows respect for nursing and will positively impact individual people’s lives, our community and the nursing profession.”

The school will name a current GCC nursing faculty member to the chair this fall.

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