Invest In Me
Help make an accessible, enriching college education possible for all VCU students
If you know anything about Virginia Commonwealth University, you know it’s different here. Like many public research universities, we strive to achieve distinction in education, research, service and patient care. We cultivate discovery, creativity and talent. We foster collaboration to advance learning, entrepreneurship and inquiry.
At VCU, however, we know that access is just as important as excellence. Our students need your help to make the most of their time here.
The Invest in Me campaign aims to raise funds to enhance the VCU experience, from scholarships that make it possible for students to join our campus community and stay the course through graduation to awards that offset living expenses while they focus on meaningful internships or assistantships to travel grants that help them attend academic and professional conferences or expand their horizons through study abroad.
VCU students are the doctors, job creators, engineers, social workers, dentists and artists — the changemakers — of tomorrow.
Invest in them. Your support today is an investment not just in their future but in all of our futures.
“The amount of risk that a nontraditional student takes on is terrifying, but it also speaks to the level at which we are committed to success. Receiving a scholarship makes me feel like someone believes in me. Someone sees something in me that is worth it, and I've got to prove that they're right. I've got to make them proud.”
Rachel Easter (Cert.’18/H&S)
School of Medicine, Class of 2023
Living the dream
Nontraditional student pursues her dream of becoming a doctor with help from scholarships
Rachel Easter (Cert.’18/H&S) first knew she wanted to be a doctor when she was 5 years old, but the idea seemed like an improbable dream.
“My mom was a teacher and my dad was self-employed,” she says. “They barely had enough money for us to eat. There was no money for school, and definitely not enough money for medical school.”
Over the next several decades, Easter grew up, went to college and explored a number of possible career paths in the fine arts, small business administration and finance. She became a mother, experienced marriage and divorce, overcame postpartum depression, grieved her brother’s unexpected death and cared for her father after a suicide attempt. Looking back on these experiences, Easter sees that each one helped prepare her to be the doctor she was meant to be.
“I took the long, circuitous route to medical school,” says Easter, now 37 and in her second year in the VCU School of Medicine. “I've lived life, and every life experience has put me in the most advantageous position to be a kind, caring, empathetic doctor. I feel like I’m thriving and getting to where I need to be.”
Easter is the oldest member in her class as well as the only member with a child. Though she is determined to fulfill her dream, the high cost of medical school is a risky undertaking for a nontraditional student whose family depends on them, she says.
“The amount of risk that a nontraditional student takes on is terrifying,” Easter says, “but it also speaks to the level at which we are committed to success. The stakes are so high that we're dedicated to achieving our goal at all costs. We’ll do whatever it takes.”
Easter is the grateful recipient of multiple scholarships, including the Drs. Julie C. Moller and John B. Sanford Endowed Scholarship and the Joseph Collins Foundation Scholarship. In addition to reducing her need for student loans, the awards further fueled Easter’s drive to succeed.
“It makes me feel like someone believes in me,” Easter says. “Someone sees something in me that is worth it, and I've got to prove that they're right. I've got to make them proud.”
“Without my scholarship, I would have to work full time and would have less time to study and take advantage of the experiential learning opportunities I’ve had. I can’t express how much gratitude I have for the support I’ve received. It makes me feel like someone really believes in me and wants to help me follow my dreams.”
School of Nursing, Class of 2021
Poised to lead
Scholarship support enables nursing student to pursue experiential learning opportunities
Before Laura Herring enrolled in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing, she earned her associate degree from Rappahannock Community College near her hometown of Essex, Virginia. She used her time at RCC to explore the health care field by shadowing caregivers in different areas of a local hospital.
“I really fell in love with nursing when I shadowed an ER nurse,” says Herring, who will complete her B.S. in Nursing at VCU in May. “I realized how much of an impact I could make on people’s lives. I just knew that was what I was meant to do.”
Herring worked full time to afford the cost of tuition, books, fees and living expenses while she was in community college. At VCU, her financial burden has been relieved thanks to support from the Joanne and William Conway Nursing Scholarship, which fund provides scholarships to about 150 undergraduate students in the School of Nursing each year.
The award, Herring says, has helped her excel in the School of Nursing’s Leadership Fellows Program.
“The program is one of the most amazing things I have experienced in nursing school,” Herring says. “Without the Conway scholarship, I would have to go back to working full time and would have less time to study and take advantage of the kind of experiential learning opportunities I’ve had.”
After she graduates, Herring plans to work as an ER nurse before pursuing travel nursing, where she would complete short-term assignments in high-need hospitals. She feels prepared to go wherever her career may take her, though, thanks to her time at VCU and the scholarship that helped her make the most of it.
“I can’t express how much gratitude I have for the support I’ve received,” Herring says. “It makes me feel like someone really believes in me and wants to help me follow my dreams.”
By the numbers
The Invest in Me campaign launched in 2019 to raise funds to enhance the VCU experience. So far:
donors have supported
Invest in Me.
funds are benefitting from support for Invest in Me.
new funds have been established.
has been raised during