Washtenaw Community College receives $1M to establish annual nursing scholarships

First cohort of Reading Scholars to be announced for Winter 2022 semester

Washtenaw Community College benefactors Agnes and Stephen Reading. (JD Scott Photography)

ANN ARBOR – Agnes and Stephen Reading have donated $1 million to the Washtenaw Community College Foundation to establish a fund for 10 nursing students to receive full-ride scholarships to WCC each year.

Longtime supporters of the college, the Ann Arbor-based Readings said their own personal experiences motivated them to help bolster the nursing profession.

“Nurses are the soul of a hospital. Ensuring excellent nursing care for people in our community is of utmost importance to us,” Stephen Reading said in a statement. “I’ve been in the hospital a lot and have met many nurses. Agnes and I have been moved by the care we’ve received from nurses and have made good friends.”

The first group of Reading Scholars will be announced soon for the Winter 2022 semester. Starting next fall, a new set of scholarship recipients will be named annually.

The full-ride scholarships include tuition, exam fees, books and equipment needed for a three-year degree. Once they complete the coursework, students can then transfer to Eastern Michigan University and earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

“Students can complete three years at WCC for about the cost of one year at a traditional four-year university,” Agnes Reading said in a statement. “Not only is it a bargain, but WCC has an excellent reputation for its rigorous nursing program.”

Nearly 150 students graduate from WCC’s nursing program each year, which features state-of-the-art classrooms and simulation labs on campus. Students also receive practical experience through clinical partnerships with health care facilities and hospitals.

“We are beyond thrilled the Readings have made this very generous gift to WCC and our nursing students,” said WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca in a statement. “Now more than ever the world needs excellent, caring nurses, and WCC prepares students by arming them with the education they need coupled with the real-world experiences employers seek.”

Despite the increased need for nurses during the pandemic and general registered nurse shortages, it has been listed as one of the fastest-growing professions by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Readings hope to highlight the field of nursing as an art.

“Nursing is not just charts, procedures and processes,” Stephen Reading said in a statement. “It is the genuine personal engagement between nurse and patient that provides patient healing and timely communication between doctor and patient, an art that is easily overlooked as a meaningful hospital tool.”