$1 million gift from Agnes and Stephen Reading creates 10 annual nursing scholarships

December 16, 2021 Fran LeFort

Agnes and Stephen Reading
Agnes and Stephen Reading said they were motivated to create a nursing scholarship at WCC after their own experience in local hospitals. "Nurses are the soul of the hospital," Stephen Reading said. (Photo by JD Scott)


A $1 million gift to the Washtenaw Community College Foundation by Agnes and Stephen Reading will fund 10 annual full-ride scholarships for WCC nursing students. The Ann Arbor philanthropists are longtime supporters of WCC.

The first Reading Scholars nursing students will soon be named for the Winter 2022 semester, with a new set of recipients being selected each fall semester starting in Fall 2022.

The Readings said they were motivated to focus on strengthening this region’s nursing profession based on their own personal experiences.

“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. “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.”

Nurses have faced unique challenges since the pandemic. Registered nurse shortages have been on the rise for nearly a decade, while the pandemic has increased the need for even more nurses.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists registered nursing as among the fastest-growing occupations through 2030, with projections of 194,950 openings each year.

Reading Scholars will receive tuition, books, exam fees and equipment needed to complete three years at WCC. Students may then transfer to Eastern Michigan University, where they may earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

”We are beyond thrilled the Readings have made this very generous gift to WCC and our nursing students,” said President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca. “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.”

Students often face challenges to finishing their education, including work and family commitments. The Readings want to make earning a degree easier for those who truly have what it takes to become a RN and continue on for their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees.

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

Each year, WCC’s program graduates nearly 150 nursing students, who are educated in state-of-the-art simulation labs and classrooms on campus. Clinical partnerships with hospitals and other health care facilities ensure that students receive valuable training and experience.

The Nursing program takes a holistic approach to student development and focuses on professionalism, competency, high ethics, safety and compassion for the good of the patient, family and community.

The Readings’ desire is to bring visibility to nursing as both a science and an art.

“Nursing is not just charts, procedures and processes. 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,” said Stephen Reading, who notes the importance of a nurse’s respect and compassion for the patient’s perspective, as well as the great pride they take in their profession.

“We are grateful for Agnes and Stephen’s generosity in support of this program,” said Phillip Snyder, Associate Vice President, WCC Foundation. “The Readings’ gift is truly transformational and will be life changing for many WCC students, both now and in perpetuity.”

Tags: Donation, January 2022, Nursing, On The Record, Reading Scholars, Scholarships, WCC Foundation

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