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SXU nursing student Kerensa F. Vinson named Schweitzer Fellow

Will educate Illinois Youth Center residents about HIV and sexually transmitted diseases

Chicago (April 12, 2007) – Saint Xavier University nursing graduate student Kerensa F. Vinson has been awarded a Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellowship. Now entering its 12th year, the Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellows Program provides service opportunities and support for aspiring health professionals who seek to help those currently underserved by the health care system. Previous examples of service projects include childhood literacy programs, physical fitness and nutrition education, and conflict resolution workshops.  

Vinson’s advisor at Saint Xavier, Associate Professor of Nursing JoAnn Gruca, Ph.D., R.N., said she was delighted but not surprised that Vinson had been awarded the fellowship.   
“Kerensa is a bright and articulate health care professional who wants to make a difference in the world,” Gruca said. “She is an ideal person to carry out the long-term commitment necessary for this service fellowship.”   

Vinson intends to use her fellowship to educate the population of juvenile females housed at the Illinois Youth Center in Warrenville, Ill., about the dangers of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. She currently volunteers at the center. 

“These issues have been identified by public health officials as health priorities and reflect a major public health concern in our nation,” Vinson wrote in her fellowship application. She intends to build on existing programs by “reinforcing a sense of personal empowerment through educating these juveniles on the importance of making healthy decisions when it comes to sexual behavior. The individual’s sense of self-worth will be greatly increased when her knowledge-deficits have been adequately met.” 

“I would like to thank God for this great opportunity and for prompting me to apply. Thanks to my husband and children for their prayers, love, patience and support through the process,” Vinson said. “Thanks to Dr. Gruca, who is an awesome instructor and mentor, and thanks to SXU for affording me a wonderful undergraduate and graduate career.”

Currently in her first year in her clinical nurse leader track master’s program at Saint Xavier University, Vinson previously earned a bachelor of science in nursing and a bachelor of arts in liberal studies from Saint Xavier. Since earning her undergraduate degrees, Vinson has worked and volunteered in an impressive number of capacities at different healthcare centers, including St. Francis Hospital and Health Center in Blue Island, Ill.; Ingalls Memorial Hospital in Harvey, Ill.; P.A.S.S. Pregnancy Care Center in South Holland, Ill.; Advocate Prosource in Oak Brook, Ill.; the University of Chicago Hospitals in Chicago; Advocate Christ Medical Center, Oak Lawn, Ill.; and the Illinois Department of Corrections, Warrenville, Ill.   

“This recognition is a tremendous testament to the dedication and leadership of our students,” said Saint Xavier School of Nursing Dean Anne Bavier, Ph.D.   

Contact Joe Moore
(773) 298-3937 or jmoore@sxu.edu