UWM alumna Ilona Ontscherenki had an epiphany watching her father, Simon, undergo cancer treatment at West Allis Memorial Hospital. “I began to see what amazing skills nurses hold and the boundless capacity for empathy and compassion necessary for them to succeed,” she says.
After her father’s death, Ontscherenki created a scholarship at UWM to honor his memory and the nurses who cared for him. “I was a first-generation college student at UWM and a recipient of scholarships,” she says. “Now I am honoring my father’s memory by helping future generations on their professional path. Through this scholarship, I am also investing in my own fate; I’m part of the generation that will soon need more nursing care. I couldn’t think of a better school to invest in than my own alma mater.”
The Ontscherenki Scholarship, which helps both undergraduates and graduate students, was awarded to PhD student Natalie McAndrew in 2016. “My goal is to show my donors a return on investment by helping patients, families, and communities live healthier lives,” says McAndrew. “Nursing science empowers me to find solutions to complex problems and gives me hope that we can develop a stronger, more effective health care system.”
Blessing Lee, who received the Ontscherenki Scholarship as an undergraduate, recently earned her PhD. “Receiving my scholarship award letter put the biggest smile on my face,” she recalls. “The Ontscherenki Scholarship helped me work
less, so I could really focus on getting my degree.”