Harford Community College Foundation Receives $1 Million Endowment for Nursing Scholarships

Dr. David and Alena Schwaber join nursing students Julia Akehurst, Katelyn Dietz and Katie Szabo at the May 2018 nursing pinning ceremony at Harford Community College. The Schwabers have endowed a $1 million scholarship for students studying nursing at the College.  (Photo Courtesy of Harford Community College)

Longtime Harford Community College donors Dr. David and Alena Schwaber have endowed a $1 million scholarship for students studying nursing. It is the largest individual donation ever received by the Harford Community College Foundation.

The Schwabers began their support of nursing students at Harford Community College by establishing the Alena & David M. Schwaber Nursing Scholarship in 2005. Valued at $3,000 per student, the scholarship has been awarded to 75 students over the past 15 years.

To be eligible for the Schwaber scholarship, students must be enrolled at least half time (six credits), maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher, and be enrolled in the Harford Community College’s Nursing Associate of Science Program. The scholarship may be used toward tuition, fees, books, supplies, materials, uniforms and other related program costs.

“As recent events have made clear, frontline health care professionals are an indispensable part of our communities, keeping us healthy and safe. Our nursing and allied health programs have always been a point of pride for HCC,” said Jacqueline Jackson, PhD, interim president of Harford Community College. “Now, thanks to the generous endowment established by Dr. and Mrs. Schwaber—along with a recent award from the Maryland Higher Education Commission to increase the capacity of our nursing program—we can support a greater number of students and ultimately provide for the health and well-being of more people in our community.”  

Harford Community College is known for its competitive and rigorous nursing program, which educates and provides a substantive health care workforce for the region. Given the current global health crisis, there is not only an increased need for health care workers but a need for financial support for current and prospective students in the nursing program.

Providing educational funding for nursing students is rooted in the Schwabers’ philosophy of giving back to their community. Dr. Schwaber has served on the Harford Community College Foundation’s board of directors for 13 years and knows firsthand how monetary donations can change the lives of students.

For the Schwabers, the global pandemic has highlighted the heroism of health care workers and solidified what they always believed to be true about investing in the nursing program: Since students have chosen to enter a selfless field that gives back to the community, they should not have to pay for their education. While they realize their scholarship won’t be able to cover the entire cost for all nursing students, the Schwabers hope others will follow their example and establish nursing scholarships.

The Schwabers see the nursing profession as similar to those who enter the military, providing service to others. Those who enter the military don’t have to pay for basic training, and the Schwabers feel strongly that those who are studying nursing shouldn’t have to pay for their training, either, because they are providing a critical service for others.

“The Schwabers care deeply for their community and have made a significant impact on the nursing program at Harford Community College over the years,” said Laura Cianelli Preston, MS, RN, dean, nursing and allied health professions at Harford Community College. “For example, when Darlington Hall opened, nursing students gained key skills and clinical judgment by working with an adult human simulator, which the Schwabers provided in addition to making a donation to the building fund. Thanks to their generosity then and today, the Schwabers are supporting nurses who are critically needed in our community. I am grateful to David and Alena for their generous gift of nursing student scholarships.”

Harford Community College’s partnership with Towson University has streamlined the process for students to graduate with a four-year nursing degree. In addition, University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health continues to partner with the College by offering employment opportunities and scholarship support to HCC students and graduates of the nursing program.

Last month, Harford Community College was awarded a five-year Nurse Support Program II Grant from the Health Services Cost Review Commission and the Maryland Higher Education Commission.

The grant, totaling just over $2 million, will allow the College to increase its admission capacity into the nursing program. With the Schwabers’ $1 million endowment, Harford Community College will be able to increase scholarship opportunities for the additional students enrolled in the program.

The Harford Community College Foundation awards more than $400,000 in scholarships annually to students. Making education affordable and accessible is the mission behind the work of the foundation and the inspiration found within the generosity of individuals who make it possible. To learn more about the foundation and scholarship funding, visit harford.edu or contact Denise Dregier, director of development, at 443-412-2428.

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