First awards of new scholarship help future nurse leaders

Three nursing students at the University of Houston-Victoria won’t have to pay any more money to graduate.


Lance Neill, Sabrina Davila and Julie Cordova, registered nurses who are working on Master of Science in Nursing degrees, recently were named the first Johnson Scholars. Starting this semester, the cost of their tuition, fees and books will be paid until they graduate. The awards were made possible by a $130,000 grant from the M.G. and Lillie A. Johnson Foundation in Victoria that the UHV School of Nursing received in the fall.



“The scholarships were established to help these students graduate and become nurse leaders in our communities,” said Kathryn Tart, founding dean of the UHV School of Nursing.


The scholarships are awarded to full-time students with excellent academic records. The school administration also looks for leadership potential. Preference also is given to those from backgrounds underrepresented in the nursing field, including younger nurses, men and minorities, especially Hispanics. The first recipients are expected to graduate by early 2010.


Lance Neill

“It will definitely help financially,” Neill said. He is working part time as a nurse at Christus Spohn Hospital in Beeville while he gets his degree and has a stepson in college. His MSN with a concentration in nurse education will allow him to achieve his dream of moving up in the nursing world.


“To move up in the hospital system these days, you need to have an advanced degree,” he said.


Julie Cordova

The scholarship allowed Cordova to invert her roles of part-time student and full-time nurse at Citizens Medical Center.


“It let me just dive right in to my education,” she said. When she finishes her MSN with a concentration in nurse education, she hopes to teach patients in a dedicated department of a hospital.


Sabrina Davila

The scholarship has relieved a lot of stress for Sabrina Davila, who works as a staff nurse educator at Citizens Medical Center.


“It’s a lot of pressure off my shoulders,” she said. “Every semester, I have to decide whether I’m going to go to school or work extra hours to earn money to pay for school.”


The mother of three said the scholarship means she can now focus full time on earning her MSN with concentrations in nurse education and administration. The two degrees will open a vast array of opportunities in the future, she said.


“These students will go on to educate the nurses of tomorrow, become leaders in the industry and advance the overall quality of health care in this region,” Tart said.


In Victoria, the UHV School of Nursing offers a RN to BSN program, a RN to MSN Bridge program and a MSN with concentrations in nurse education and nurse administration. For more information, visit, or e-mail student recruitment coordinator Tammy Neeley Whatley at

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Thomas Doyle 361-570-4342