Ridgway Scholars Advocate for Equitable Healthcare in Underserved Communities

The late Dean Emerita Eileen Ridgway, PhD, RN, from the College of Nursing, was known and admired as a vocal leader and advocate for justice in health care delivery and policy throughout her 1963-1977 tenure at Seattle University. Said to be “ahead of the curve” in respect to nursing and its impact, Dr. Ridgway challenged students to look beyond the clinical setting to issues of economic and social inequity.

This year, the College of Nursing commemorated Dr. Ridgway and 25 years of leadership development through the Eileen Ridgway Outreach Scholarship, at an intimate luncheon event for donors, faculty, staff and students on April 26.

First awarded in 1997, the Ridgway scholarship fosters leadership in community outreach, service and civic efforts, while supporting nursing students’ professional growth in research and analysis. More than 30 Ridgway scholarships have been awarded to date. Each scholar undertakes a hands-on research project working with an underserved population or community.

Of the three 2022 scholarship recipients, two graduated in June with Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degrees in the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) track. The third scholar completed the College of Nursing’s Advanced Practice Nursing Immersion (APNI), a four-year program of graduate study for students who have a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field, in June. She began her advanced coursework in the 2022-2023 academic year, intending to earn a DNP with a specialization in Nurse Midwifery. Read on to meet the 2022 Ridgway Scholars and learn how they are continuing Dr. Ridgway’s social justice legacy.

2022 Ridgway Scholarship Recipients

Nazira Juneiyd, ’22, DNP-FNP
Project name: Community-Based Diabetes Program for East African Populations
Faculty Sponsor: Danuta M. Wojnar, PhD, RN, MED, IBCLC, FAAN

“To me, Dr. Ridgway was a health care hero who devoted her time, knowledge and effort to caring for vulnerable, underserved patients who were not receiving quality health care,” says Nazira Juneiyd, ’22. “The Ridgway scholarship motivated me to implement what I’m passionate about, which is improving health care for underserved populations at risk for chronic conditions. I’m establishing a culturally relevant diabetes education program for East African immigrants, who are one of the most vulnerable populations here in King County. I am from East Africa, and I understand the culture. I also speak Swahili, Oromo and Amharic. It is my hope that this program will continue long-term, beyond the duration of my project. I’d like to continue providing health education for this population either in-person or by creating a series of educational YouTube videos that patients can watch in their native language. My ultimate career goal is to start an NGO in East Africa to assist providers there in offering primary care and education to communities in that region of the world.”

Juneiyd’s project intervention will consist of six interactive group education sessions delivered twice a month followed by weekly phone check-ins/counseling. 

Mckenzie Golden, ’22, DNP-FNP
Project name: Enhancing Diversity of Nursing Workforce: A Program Evaluation for MultiCare’s Pipeline Program
Faculty Sponsor: Kumhee Ro, DNP, FNP-BC

Mckenzie Golden’s research focuses on an existing program that embodies the intent of the Ridgway Scholarship.

“The MultiCare Pipeline Program centers on a civic duty embraced by Tacoma General Hospital to increase public health education and knowledge in underserved communities, particularly among minority high school students,” she explains. “The Pipeline program aims to increase the recruitment of minority, first-generation and low socioeconomic (SES) high school students into the nursing profession. I’m very inspired by the program and chose to do a comprehensive evaluation to discern its long-term impact in the community. This has not been done before and it’s my intention that the results will inform organizers’ desire to grow the program.”

The MultiCare Pipeline Program has been operating for more than 20 years as a week-long summer camp introducing an average of 110 students to nursing across four neighboring counties. Led predominantly by BIPOC nursing professionals from Tacoma General and Good Samaritan Hospitals, students attend classes at the hospitals on anatomical systems and conditions, engage in hands-on skills workshops to learn how to suture and splint and job shadow professionals in an area of choice, be it in the ICU, surgery, pediatrics or other specialty areas. The program had to shift to a remote format in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, but organizers tried to make the transition as seamless as possible, providing similar learning opportunities.

Golden will collect longitudinal data from five cohorts between 2016-2020 to determine the percentage of nurse camp alumni who are either enrolled in pre-nursing/nursing programs, are currently employed in health care and/or who have achieved CNA, LPN or RN licensure. She will also assess barriers to pursing nursing as a career for minority, first-generation and low SES students who have completed the nurse camp.

Daniella Navarro, ’25, DNP-CNM
Project name: Verducacion: Curandote con Comida [Vegga-cation: Healing the Body with Food]
Faculty Sponsor: Daisy Garcia, PhD, RN

Before enrolling in the APNI program, Daniella Navarro worked in a medical clinic as a health educator.

“Providers at the clinic only had 15 minutes with each patient," she explains. "I understand their time is limited because they have a lot of patients to see, but that’s not enough time to establish rapport with a patient-or at least not a strong rapport. As a health educator, I was able to engage with the patients and do the follow-up, and my services were free.

“I feel that nurses, though they may have different scopes of practice, can still establish that rapport and ensure patients are receiving the education they need. Providers do great work, but to me, nurses are the glue and that’s why I want to go into nursing. I want to be the glue, filling knowledge gaps and helping to provide the patient with complete care.”

Fall quarter, Navarro did her Population Health Clinical at Madres de Casino Road in Everett, a nonprofit resource center serving more than 300 local Latinx families with programming initiatives to combat language barriers and food insecurity. Additionally, the organization offers parenting support, a safe place for teens afterschool and access to education programming. She and a classmate provided two different culturally relevant lifestyle education classes for people with chronic diseases so they may begin to take direct control of their health and the health of their families and prevent future generations from having to navigate chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia. For her Ridgway Scholarship project, Navarro is continuing these classes on her own, this time with a focus on healthy eating and monitoring whether the classes benefit not only those with chronic conditions, but also their caregivers and the community as a whole.

“The majority of people in my classes are women and they’re mothers,” she says. “It may be their husband or a parent that has the chronic condition, but they are preparing food for the family. My goal is to plant some seeds—to expose people to resources and knowledge they can share with their community and, in that way, continue spreading the seeds.”

For more information on the Eileen Ridgway Endowed Scholarship Fund or the Eileen Ridgway Outreach Scholarship Lunch, contact Peggy O’Boyle Fine, director of Development, at 206-296-1896, finep@seattleu.edu.

Story Tags: Jesuit Values, Social Justice, DEI, Scholarships, Professional Formation, Current Students, Nursing, Community Engagement.