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Birthday gift expands scholarship opportunities for WVU School of Nursing students

Michael and Jane Gandy

Michael and Jane Gandy

West Virginia University School of Nursing students will benefit from a scholarship established in honor of a dedicated alumna’s 75th birthday.

Michael Gandy contributed $52,000 to establish an endowed scholarship named for his wife of 40 years, Jane, who always dreamed of giving back to her alma mater. The Jane Fitzwater Gandy School of Nursing Scholarship will go to undergraduate nursing students, with first preference to those from West Virginia.

“Our graduates are the heart of our School of Nursing family, and we are grateful for continued support from loyal alumni like Jane Gandy,” Tara Hulsey, dean and E. Jane Martin Endowed Professor at the School of Nursing, said. “Scholarships like this one create opportunities to help students achieve their dreams and ensure the next generation of nurses is well prepared to care for our communities.”

Jane Gandy grew up across the country as the daughter of a United States Air Force officer, but she has always considered West Virginia home. Her parents were born in the Mountain State, and both her maternal and paternal grandparents lived in Buckhannon, where she often spent holidays and summers as a child.

That family connection led her to WVU, where she is grateful to have earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1968.

“I just received a fantastic basic nursing education at WVU,” Gandy said. “And I knew that from the moment I started working as a professional nurse. When I graduated in ’68, I went immediately to Houston, Texas, and started working down there. And it quickly became evident what a good foundation in assessment skills I had acquired at WVU. It served me well my entire professional life.”

Now retired, Gandy’s nursing career included work in obstetrics, high-risk care, coordination of care, pediatric practice, allergy treatment and more. Yet, she said she was always well prepared thanks to her education at WVU.

As she connected with colleagues at conferences over the years, Gandy learned she was a product of “the West Virginia plan,” an innovative nursing curriculum developed at WVU in the 1960s that was nationally recognized and widely adopted elsewhere. She has wanted to show her gratitude by establishing a scholarship for many years, but the financial commitment always seemed out of reach until recently.

As Michael Gandy considered the cost of a getaway at The Greenbrier for his wife’s 75th birthday, they agreed that money – combined with additional funds – would be better spent supporting future generations of nurses.

“The pandemic really brought it all out, how important professional nurses are and what they do, and how important they are to not just direct patient care but setting the tone for care for all providers, wherever the care is happening,” Jane Gandy said. “To be able to assist someone else in starting out their career in nursing, I just consider it a great privilege, and I feel very thankful we’re able to do that.”

The Gandys reside in Canton, Georgia, about an hour north of Atlanta. Their gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.

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