Agnes and Stephen Reading have endowed an additional $1 million to double the size of the Reading Nursing Scholarship program for Washtenaw Community College students.
The Ann Arbor philanthropists and WCC President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca today announced the gift on campus alongside student beneficiaries.
The Reading Nursing Scholarship endowment now totals $2 million and provides 20 full-ride nursing scholarships annually for WCC students. Scholarships are awarded primarily based on need to students planning to transfer to Eastern Michigan University to complete their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.
In 2022, the couple established the Reading Scholars program with a $1 million endowment to cover tuition, books, uniforms, clinical fees and other costs for nursing students.
“We know firsthand the impact nurses have on their patients, and we know WCC trains the best," Stephen Reading said. "Because of WCC’s low tuition rates, our gift goes a long way and enables even more students to focus on their rigorous studies without having to worry about how they’re going to pay for school.”
In addition to the $2 million endowment to fund scholarships in perpetuity, the Readings have given $100,000 – $50,000 each in 2022 and 2024 – to jumpstart students enrolling with the award.
WCC’s nursing program has earned the highest accolades, and graduates an average of 120 nurses each year.
Last summer, the National League for Nursing named the college a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education, the only community college and one of just nine nursing programs nationwide to earn the honor.
“We are beyond thankful for the generosity of Agnes and Stephen Reading. Our students work so hard in their nursing program and care so much about others," President Bellanca said. "It is deeply gratifying to see them supported in this way."
Since the Reading Scholar program was established, 33 WCC nursing students have been awarded the scholarship.
A number of student scholarship recipients attended today’s announcement and luncheon.
“To have someone recognize your efforts and understand how hard you are working is like finding a piece of hay in a needle stack," said student JaNay Madison of Redford. "Noticing my potential and giving me a chance to succeed is something the Reading family has done to make it possible for my dreams of becoming a Registered Nurse to come true. Thank you!”
Madison said she is deeply appreciative to receive the award to help her along on what can be a challenging journey. She said her two daughters have also inspired her to persevere.
“I want to provide myself as a living example to show that hard work does pay off. I want to be someone my children look up to and can boast with confidence that their Mom is someone that they can be proud of,” Madison said. “With the assistance from this scholarship, it has lowered the height of my hurdles to cross that finish line. I will be forever grateful to the Reading family for this.”
Reading Scholarship recipients Raymond Apostoleris and Marcus Apostoleris, twin brothers from Chelsea, also attended the announcement.
“This scholarship means a great deal to me because it lets me focus on my studies. The Reading family has given me the opportunity to achieve my dream with minimal stress and financial freedom. Thank you, Mr. Reading and Mrs. Reading,” Raymond Aposteleris said.
“The Readings are amazing people for giving us the chance to fully focus on nursing. I can’t thank them enough for this wonderful opportunity,” Marcus Apostoleris said.