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Cleveland Clinic, The Howley Foundation Partner with Ursuline College to Expand ASPIRE Nurse Scholars Program

Originally published on the Cleveland Clinic & Ursuline College websites

Cleveland Clinic and The Howley Foundation are partnering with Ursuline College to expand the ASPIRE Nurse Scholars Program to offer college scholarships to underrepresented students interested in pursuing registered nursing careers.

The ASPIRE Nurse Scholars Program, established by Cleveland Clinic and supported by a $10 million gift from The Howley Foundation, is a local high school and college program that seeks to increase diversity in healthcare, address opportunity gaps and reduce health disparities in the community.

Approximately 25 students per year from Cleveland-area high schools enter the ASPIRE program as high school juniors and are taught relationship-based care, research and evidence-based practice, simulation healthcare and more. Seniors who choose to return to the program participate in a clinical nursing experience and have the opportunity to earn a scholarship to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from the Breen School of Nursing and Health Professions at Ursuline College after high school.

Students work as patient care nursing assistants (PCNAs) for Cleveland Clinic’s Stanley Shalom Zielony Institute for Nursing Excellence during the summer after high school graduation and throughout their college career. They will then have the opportunity to return to Cleveland Clinic to work as registered nurses for at least three years after college graduation and licensure.

Students in the ASPIRE Nurse Scholars Program see what it would be like to be a nurse in an operating room.

“Through ASPIRE, we are increasing opportunities for underrepresented students and committed to developing a new generation of diverse and expertly trained nurses,” said Joan M. Kavanagh, Ph.D., R.N., Associate Chief Nursing Officer of Nursing Education and Professional Development at Cleveland Clinic. “In addition to providing access to Ursuline’s prestigious nursing program, students will be given room and board to ensure they have an optimal on-campus learning environment to complete their degree.”

Patricia Sharpnack, D.N.P., R.N., Dean of Ursuline’s Breen School of Nursing and Health Professions, agrees. “We are committed to providing the resources and wrap-around services that will ensure student success in the program,” she said.

Nick Howley, Chairman of The Howley Foundation and Executive Chairman and founder of Transdigm Group Inc., commented, “Supporting educational programs that directly address issues of equality and upward mobility is the central focus of The Howley Foundation. The ASPIRE program is a shining example. Cleveland Clinic’s partnership with Ursuline College will enable education for underrepresented students seeking to become tomorrow’s healthcare leaders, and we’re excited to see the program grow and thrive in the years to come.”

Ursuline’s Breen School of Nursing and Health Professions is ranked the # 2 nursing program in Ohio by The program has a 100% employment rate, post licensure. A recent study by the American Enterprise Institute ranked Ursuline #1 nationally for its record of moving students from low-income into higher income groups.

This fall, Ursuline welcomed 11 ASPIRE students. Most are 2020 high school graduates. Some transferred from the associate’s degree program at Cuyahoga Community College.

The ASPIRE program is now accepting applications from high school juniors. At the direction of Cleveland Clinic, students are chosen to participate in the 12-week program based on their GPA, a short essay, recommendations and an interview. To apply online, visit The application deadline is 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 6, 2020.