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"My Biggest Cheerleaders"

Pat FanningA retired teacher, Betty* understands the value of education. Betty's own parents never finished high school, but they had always emphasized education's importance and made sure Betty and her brother were college-educated.

"After my parents passed away, my husband and I decided to honor them by supporting education to help others achieve in life," Betty says. "We focused on nursing education specifically after I saw the wonderful care the nurses gave my mom when she was a patient at Barnes-Jewish Hospital."

In 1992, Betty and her husband, Bill,* established the Agnes Walter Foundation Nursing Scholarship Fund through The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Scholarships are awarded to nursing students at the Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College who have completed their freshman year and are in the upper 50 percent of their class.

Since the scholarship fund was created, Betty and Bill have supported as many as six students a year.

"I've kept a large envelope with all the wonderful thank-you notes and letters from students over the years," Betty says. "We've also met some of the nursing students at special scholarship dinners. They're on the cusp of their lives so it's exciting to hear about their plans.

We want to support scholarships so they don't have quite so much to worry about financially. It's a good feeling knowing we've done something worthwhile for others. We don't need another car or any luxury items-this is more important."

After having heart valve surgery in 2012, Betty has an even greater appreciation for nursing care.

"I'm all for supporting medical science these days, especially after having this procedure," she says. "I was in the hospital for 12 days and anxious to get home. The nurses were my biggest cheerleaders. I was amazed at their attention to detail. The nursing care was just excellent."

Scholarship Launches a Meaningful Career
One of the nursing students who benefited from Betty and Bill's generosity is Brian Michalowski. He received the Agnes Walter Nursing Scholarship for the Accelerated Nursing Program at Goldfarb for the spring 2013 semester.

Brian is a married father of three. His family is active in volunteering and builds houses for the less fortunate in the United States and in other countries.

"When I visited Cambodia, I saw that more than houses, the people had a basic need for health care," Brian says. "This experience planted a seed and I decided I wanted to do something more meaningful with my life. I wanted to attend nursing school so I could continue to volunteer and aid in one of the greatest gifts of all: good health."

Brian will graduate in December with a BSN (Bachelor of Science in nursing), thanks to support from Betty and Bill's scholarship.

"My family's hope is that we can continue our volunteer work in a medical capacity, and this scholarship gift will go a long way in making that dream possible," Brian says. "I can't wait to go on a medical mission as a nurse. I would love to work in free clinics around the community and abroad. For us, this scholarship is not an investment in a single person, but an investment in a community. We plan to pay this generosity forward to help others."

By including a nursing scholarship through The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital in your estate plans, you, too, can pay it forward. Return the enclosed survey to request sample language you can use to make an estate gift.

*Names have been changed; donors prefer to remain anonymous.