As caregiver for her father, Danielle Alonso has met many nurses. Whenever she asks the truly effective and compassionate nurses where they studied, they invariably give the same answer: Alverno.

So when Alonso decided to leave her demanding banking job to pursue a Nursing degree, she knew where to go.

“I’ve seen how a good nurse and, unfortunately, a bad nurse, can affect the outcomes,” she says. “It means a lot to me to be a good nurse.”

Alonso aspires to be an oncology nurse, a specialization she chose because of family members who have been affected by cancer. She’s on track to graduate in May 2018 thanks in part to the new Finish Line Scholars program, created for undergraduate Nursing students like Alonso.

Funded by a $199,600 grant from Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corp., the Finish Line Scholars program provides financial assistance, one-on-one advising and weekly group sessions covering relevant topics such as time management, a crucial topic considering the work and family obligations that many Alverno students balance along with their studies.

Those obligations can easily intervene, and the goal of the program is to make sure that if and when they do, Nursing students’ progress toward graduation isn’t derailed. It’s especially important considering Nursing is Alverno’s largest undergraduate major, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin and the rest of the U.S. are facing the threat of a severe shortage of nurses.

The 40 participants in the fall semester class of Finish Line Scholars each received a financial award of $250 to $1,000 at the start of the semester. Amber Penoske ’17, an aspiring oncology nurse and nurse educator, said her award helped her cover her final tuition payment, allowing her to graduate this past December. “It was a huge relief,” she says, especially considering she already has accepted a position as a registered nurse.

Participants in the Finish Line Scholars program particularly appreciate the weekly group sessions, which give them the opportunity to connect with each other and hear about their peers’ experiences at various stages in their student-nurse careers. 

“It’s helpful to hear the seniors talk about what to expect,” says Rashahla Yazdani. “It’s great insight I wouldn’t have gotten if not for the program.”

The Finish Line Scholar program is just one of the many ways that Alverno is focused on student success. Just ask Yazdani, who transferred here in 2015 and expects to graduate in December 2018.

“You get to know your classmates and your teachers on a completely different level,” she says. “Everyone wants to help each other out. I haven’t found that anywhere else.”