In 2013, generous donor support allowed The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital to provide $450,000 in scholarships to 171 students at Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College.
At one time, Gina Kitterer, now a registered nurse, was afraid of blood.
Fortunately, Gina says, “My passion for helping people overcame that. Now, it doesn’t bother me at all.”
With help from a donor-supported scholarship from The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Gina, 30, graduated from Goldfarb School of Nursing in April 2013 with a BSN degree. Today, she is working as a cardiac care nurse at the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Heart & Vascular Center
“I’ve wanted to work with hearts ever since I took my anatomy and physiology prerequisites,” Gina says.
In her fourth semester at Goldfarb, Gina spent time observing adult and pediatric heart patients. “This experience really helped me to know whether I wanted to work with adults or children,” Gina says.
“Adult heart transplant patients are super neat. The Heart & Vascular Center is able to give patients two options for survival — a left ventricular assist device known as an LVAD, or a heart transplant. Working on this floor, we are able to help give patients a way to live life again.”
Being able to relate to her patients was the most important thing Gina says she learned as a student at Goldfarb.
“It didn’t have to do with book education, but the heart and drive our teachers taught us,” she says. “How to feel for patients and smile for them, even when I’m having the hardest day…having a warm heart and compassion matters so much to our patients.”
Gina was a member of the Goldfarb Ambassador Program, the premier student leadership opportunity within the college. She spent three semesters as an ambassador, giving tours of Goldfarb, being on panels for new students, and serving as a touch point for the nursing school in various public relations capacities.
“Goldfarb worked with me to help me know exactly what I needed to get in and start my education. Plus, Goldfarb is connected to a hospital with a really good reputation,” Gina says. “They had everything I needed.”
Making a difference through mental health policy and psychiatric nursing is how Aja Sullivan wants to use her degree in nursing. She graduated in April and today is working as a staff nurse at an eating disorder treatment center as well a staff nurse at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in neurology.
Since Aja, 38, graduated with a BSN degree, she is now pursuing a PhD.
“With my interests, I saw there were a lot of political issues in mental health and I thought I could make more of an impact working in the education and policy aspect,” Aja says. “I think people need to understand the value of the nurse practitioner and mental health. There’s a double-issue of educating the public and putting resources in this area.”
Aja already had a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Washington University when she decided to go to nursing school.
After completing the science prerequisites for nursing, Aja was accepted into the year-long accelerated program at Goldfarb. The intensive program combined with life at home raising her 3-year-old twin boys with her husband kept her very busy.
“The teachers and staff at Goldfarb want you to be successful. They’re doing their best to prepare you,” Aja says, noting that she is thankful for scholarships she received, including a scholarship from the Norma and Jack Edlin Nursing Education Fund through The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital.
At Goldfarb, Aja was president of the Student Council, representing the interests and voice of the student body in various school committees and governance.
“I wanted to show others in my class that you can find the time to be involved,” she says. “From a job and career standpoint, it makes you more well-rounded to be involved.”
Aja enjoys her work as a nurse and looks forward to her mental health advocacy role in the future. “As a nurse in an eating disorders treatment center, you can see the impact you have on a patient,” she says. “But it is important to be able to address the needs of the whole person, not just the single illness.”
Scott LaPlant always knew he wanted to work in health care but he couldn’t afford paying for school.
So he started in a career as a sales representative, got married, and had two children. But as time passed, the now 38-year-old still had a dream to work in health care.
So he started classes toward his nursing school prerequisites, and then applied and was accepted to Goldfarb School of Nursing. He began nursing school in January 2013 and will graduate in August.
His nursing education might not have taken off if it hadn’t been for a generous scholarship. Scott was a recipient of the Suelthaus Scholarship of Nursing Fund through The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital.
“When I saw the scholarship check I started bawling and I’m not a crier,” Scott says. “It made a big difference in my life.”
Scott had the opportunity to meet the scholarship donors Ken and Shawn Suelthaus at a scholarship dinner last year. Ken is board chair of The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Scott said he enjoyed talking to the couple and that they were happy to get to know him and see how he fit into the nursing program.
Fitting in can be a challenge for a man in a woman-dominated field like nursing. Scott says he was one of three men in his 30-member class. For students like Scott, a group called GMEN or Goldfarb Men Excelling in Nursing, was created as a support group for men to talk about issues and offer resources to enhance their educational and professional development.
What’s next on his health care career list? Scott says he would like to work in a critical care unit for two to three years then enroll in a program to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.
Please support our future nurses through the Goldfarb School of Nursing Scholarship Fund. Make a gift online or call 314-286-0600.
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