Richard and Joanne McGillis Endowed Scholarship in the College of Nursing
For nearly 22 years, Deanne Pranke worked as a commercial flight attendant, a role she embraced wholeheartedly, particularly when it required her to provide care to passengers in need. In 2000 a critical medical emergency on a flight tested her skills like never before; Pranke came away from the experience feeling proud of the way she had handled it - and surprised by her own ability. She shared the feelings with her mom, a retired nurse, who suggested, "I think it is time you hang up your wings and become a nurse." In January 2007, Pranke applied to the College of Nursing, and was accepted into the accelerated Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN) program.
A Helping Hand
A single mom who continued to work during most of her schooling in the accelerated program, Pranke was grateful to be the first recipient of the Richard and Joanne McGillis Endowed Scholarship in the College of Nursing. In addition to being a member of the College's Development Board, Joanne McGillis has a rich history of supporting student education at the U. Herself a beneficiary of scholarship assistance during college, she admits, "I know first hand what it is like to have a stranger have enough faith in you to impact your life in such a way." Along with her husband, Dick, McGillis has established scholarships throughout health sciences to help students pursue their professional goals. In 2007, determined to have a role in preparing exceptional nurses, she expanded their support to include the nursing student scholarship. Pranke, however, is not the only one to express gratitude over the scholarship: McGillis says helping Pranke is proof positive of her theory that giving "is the most selfish thing you can do because you get so much back from it."
The two women first met at the annual Health Sciences Scholarship Luncheon in the fall of 2007. "We hit it off right away," Pranke recalls of meeting McGillis. For her part, McGillis says, "Deanne was very appreciative of the opportunity to go to nursing school. She wanted to interact, and I loved it." Following the luncheon the women continued to develop a personal relationship. "I was so proud of Deanne, because it seemed like she very much wanted to excel at what she was doing," McGillis says. "I could see she would have a wonderful bedside manner."
In 2008 Pranke graduated with honors and on the Dean's List, receiving the award for Outstanding Baccalaureate Student of the Year. She was also the only undergraduate nursing student to be nominated for the Elizabeth Fuhriman Gardner Prize for Outstanding Woman Student in the Health Sciences. Now a nurse in the Shock Trauma Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Intermountain Medical Center, she says her next goal is to ultimately take flight again - this time as a Life Flight nurse.
Paying It Forward
McGillis continues to have a deep personal interest in Deanne because, "not only is she an exemplary scholarship recipient, but she is also a marvelous human being." According to McGillis, Pranke has given her "renewed faith in mankind." She adds, "how wonderful to be a small part of this person's dream and how terrific to have her enter this vital profession. My gift keeps giving." The experience has also led McGillis to establish three additional scholarships in the College of Nursing.
For Pranke, the most rewarding part of finally achieving her dream of becoming a nurse is being in a position where she can do so much good for a patient and their family. Yet she's hesitant to call her work altruistic, because she gets so much back from it. "There will never be an end to what I can learn," she says. "With research and technology, nurses are right there in the crux of health-care delivery. I feel like a sponge, soaking it all up." She notes that McGillis continues to impact her, saying, "Joanne has a huge heart for giving, and has really inspired me to want to follow in her footsteps." Pranke hopes to one day too establish a scholarship in the College of Nursing.By Tawnja Carballo Health Sciences Development