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Dashanna K. McNeil Memorial Scholarship

1 winner$1,300
Application Deadline
Jul 31, 2024
Winners Announced
Aug 31, 2024
Education Level
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Education Level:
High School, Associate's, Bachelor's, or Master's
Career of interest:
Nursing or a related field
Planning to attend an accredited nursing institution

Dashanna K. McNeil dedicated her life to the noble vocation of nursing, serving as a beacon of inspiration and hope for countless individuals. Following her graduation from Conway High School in 1995, she swiftly pursued her calling by completing the LPN licensure program at the Conway School of Practical Nursing. Dashanna furthered her education, earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the esteemed University of South Carolina, and subsequently obtaining both a Master's in Nursing and a Master's in Public Health from the University of Phoenix.

Her passion for nursing led her to serve in various healthcare systems across several states including South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Tennessee, and California. Driven by a profound love for her profession, Dashanna founded the McNeil Healthcare Institute, a testament to her dedication to nurturing future generations of certified nursing assistants.

The Dashanna K. McNeil Memorial Scholarship stands as a tribute to her legacy, aiming to empower and uplift those who share her unwavering commitment to the nursing profession. This scholarship seeks to support and encourage individuals in their pursuit of nursing studies and the realization of their professional aspirations.

To apply for this scholarship, applicants are invited to respond to the following essay questions below.

Selection Criteria:
Essay, Ambition, Intentional, Future Nurse
Published April 17, 2024
Essay Topic

Please answer the question based on your education level.

If you're a high school senior: As a graduating high school student, why do you want to become a nurse, and is there a specific area of nursing you would like to pursue?

If you're continuing your education: What inspired you to pursue an advanced certification or degree, and what are your goals for your specific area of nursing?

400–600 words

Winners and Finalists

July 2021

Winning Application

Neslie Lopez
New Jersey City UniversityPhiladelphia, PA
Sadie Cadwell
Washburn UniversityTopeka, KS
The room was dark except for the soft light peeking through the windows which made all the furniture appear grey. As the nurse turned the lights on, it painted the chairs a bright blue color and my anticipation grew as mothers trickled into the room. This was my first glimpse into what my future could hold. I had been volunteering at the hospital for a while, but I would now be introduced to the new mothers and their journey into nurturing their new babies. The nurses gave me instructions to pull the patient’s files as they entered the clinic and weigh the babies after they had been fed. I was eager to learn how to care for these mothers and their babies even though I was only 14 years old. When they placed their newborn babies in my arms, I felt so honored. My memories from that hospital’s breast-feeding clinic are what first inspired me to pursue healthcare. I was also given the opportunity to volunteer on the pediatrics unit where my job was to cheer up the young kids on the floor by bringing in movies, games, or taking them to the playroom. I met so many children, but the one that still burns in my mind was an infant which they asked me to simply hold. Her parents needed to go to work but they did not want her to be alone, so I held her as she slept. It felt inspiring to be given this responsibility and allow the parents peace of mind knowing their baby was safe and cared for. These opportunities are what influenced me to take my first steps into pursuing nursing through going to school for my CNA and CMA certifications in high school. This allowed me to get a job at a local rehab and long-term care center to gain experience in geriatrics for these past five years. Rooted in my love for science and my love for people, my determination to pursue a career in medicine has been strengthened by these treasured experiences. I am now a level 2 nursing student in Washburn University's nursing program. With this recent pandemic, I have had the opportunity to see the full capacity of the healthcare field. I have witnessed the loneliness it brought to my elderly patients as well as the emotional strain it caused, but I was able to work with an incredible team of nurses who were creative in finding ways to cheer up our patients and keep our elderly residents in contact with their families. Covid allowed me to realize that my role as a nurse will not only be to care for my patient’s physical safety and physical health, but to also be there for their mental and emotional health. I strive to be a nurse who brings a heart of servitude filled with compassion for her patients. Following graduation from Washburn’s School of Nursing, I plan to apply for a position in OB. I have been honored to gain experience in these different areas of healthcare and I'm gaining even more experience through nursing school, but my heart continually returns to working with the mothers and their infants. My goal will be to support women on their journey into motherhood and be a part of empowering these new mothers to take on their new role with confidence instead of fear. I will be a nurse who values life and will continually seek to improve this workforce to care for my patients, their families, and our community.
Alena Hutchinson
University of South Carolina-ColumbiaConway, SC
"Licia, Licia, her bone is sticking out!!" my cousin Chanya screamed as she ran into our grandmother's house. The next thing I knew, my mom rushed out of the house, grabbed me and put me in the car. The nearest hospital was 30 minutes away, but it felt as though we got there in 10 minutes. Upon admittance to the hospital the doctor immediately knew I would need surgery. I was transferred to McLeod Hospital in Florence, SC . It was there I encountered some of the most amazing, caring, and competent nurses. This is when I knew I wanted to follow in their footsteps. The weekend I broke my arm was always Easter weekend so I didn't get to go Easter egg hunting. However, the nurses arranged for the Easter bunny to come visit the children. They made sure every child had a visit from the Easter Bunny and an Easter basket full of treats to take home. This experience made a huge impact on my decision to pursue a career in pediatric nursing. Several members of my family members are teachers, including my mother. Visiting my mom's class has allowed me to work closely with young children. Though being a teacher is very popular in my family, I never wanted to follow that career path. I believed that I could be of service in a different way. I remember how safe and cared for the nurses made me feel when I was going through a very scary moment in my life. Now that I'm much older, I understand the important role that nurses play in the lives of the patients they interact with. Seeing the impact this field has made throughout the years has made be want to be apart of it. I have always been a caring and passionate person which is a good character trait to have as a nurse. I want to be able to help others and show them that nursing is a great career to purse, and show them it is not always hardships and emergency situations but is also where you create bonds with everyone you come in contact with.
Vanessa Johnson
Allegany College of MarylandAltoona, PA
Nurses are not pill pushes but extended families. I currently work as a LPN and going back to school for my RN. I enjoy being a nurse and want to further my education so I can continue helping my residents and help teach the new nurses coming into the facility. Before entering into the nursing field I saw nurses as pill pushers. Needless to say when I became a nurse, it changed my mind. I am a hand to hold of a dying resident, a shoulder to cry on for a despaired resident, and an ear to listen for an upset resident. I strive daily at work to help my residents, to make them comfortable and happy with where they are in life. Especially with the current Covid pandemic, I became very close with the residents as they were unable to see family. In one circumstance, that will forever stay in my heart, was a resident that had declined and was actively dying. Our activities staff was unable to sit with the resident to have a virtual conference call with the family and administration was not allowing families to come in at that point of the pandemic. I finished passing my medication and documentation so I asked if I can have the IPad to FaceTime the family. They gave me a time limit of 30 minutes but I stayed on for an hour and a half. I pestered with his family and listened to music. Talked with his wife and learned a great deal of information that I didn’t know before. As the time ended with the call, his wife said her goodbyes. I stayed with my resident so he can listen to his favorite song. He passed away as the song ended. I called his wife immediately and told her the news. She was heartbroken but happy because she knew I was there and considered me family. I want to continue doing this for families and residents as they deserve to have someone with them in the time of need. Not only does the actively dying resident need someone next to him/her but the family needs someone too. I want to continue with my associates and work towards my bachelors and masters so I can teach people coming into the nursing field the holistic measures of treating patients and families. This encourages me and strives for me to continue what I do for a living. My children sees me as a nurse but always are upset when I can not make it to a holiday or a special function. I always tell them “my second family needs me today and are unable to make adjustments to their lives whereas I can”.
Ashley Delaney
Prairie State CollegeRichton Park, IL
Rebecca Dunn
University of South Carolina-ColumbiaColumbia, SC
My name is Rebecca Dunn, and I am a twenty-three-year-old from Atlanta Georgia who is currently pursuing a doctorate in nurse anesthesia at the University of South Carolina.  I come from a family who values personal integrity, honesty and compassion above all else. I grew up in a small church in Sandy Springs, and every summer I looked forward to mission trips to various communities around the United States. The insurmountable joy that I received from giving back to those less fortunate led me to discover my passion for nursing. I yearned to be the one thing that made patients smile in what could be the most difficult time of their lives.   My knowledge of nurse anesthesia was limited until one clinical day in nursing school where I was sent to the OR for a triple coronary artery bypass graft.  I was placed at the head of the bed with the nurse anesthetist and given a stool.  Picture a little nursing student in white scrubs standing on her tippy toes to just barely be able to peer over the plastic screen.  All the while the CRNA was explaining to me what he was doing to keep the patient stable, I was fascinated.  Then, as the surgeon was prepared to start the cardiopulmonary bypass machine, I was able to watch the heart stop in his hands.  It was the most surreal experience of my life and I began to cry.  Everything in nursing school seemed extraordinary, but this was something different.  I felt honored to be a part of such intelligence and expertise.  I was able to witness the human heart stop and a machine on the other side of the room continue to circulate the patient’s blood throughout his body.  What blew me away the most was the nurse anesthetist who was working what seemed like behind the scenes to keep the patient hemodynamically stable.  From that moment onward I set a goal to become a CRNA. For me a nurse anesthetist is the unsung hero of the OR; not only keeping patients hemodynamically stable during a procedure but meticulously monitoring in order to avoid adverse outcomes. I would like to accomplish many things with my advanced degree in nurse anesthesia. Short term goals post graduation are to accept a job offer at a level one trauma center where I can become a well rounded and experienced CRNA. A long term goal, and potentially the most important goal to me, is to join an organization such as Heart Care International. This organization provides live saving cardiac surgeries to children in developing countries. Mission work is where I discovered my love for serving others, and it would give me joy to be able to give back while practicing my dream job.
Tatyana Rush
Conway HighConway, SC
I want to become a nurse because I love helping because without a hesitation, I really wanted to become a nursing midwife because anything and everything about pregnancy interest me I love to learn about it!
Malonda McNair
Wake Technical Community CollegeDurham, NC
Ever since I was a little girl I've always wanted to be in the healthcare field. It's something about helping sick people heal that does something to my heart. As a young girl, I watched my grandmother and mother, who both were nurses, care for sick people as well as take the time to make sure they was ok. My grandma and mother cared for the sick like they was family and in return it taught me a great deal about helping those who couldn't help themselves. Every since then I have had my mind on pursuing becoming a nurse to be the examples my grandmother and mother not just taught me but also showed me. With my nursing degree the plan is to give back to the community by making sure those that are sick are being cared for by people like myself who has that heart of gold to help the sick and shut in. I plan to work in a local hospital and churches to see if there is any needs that I can do like doing health checks, making sure resources are known and available to those that need them, making basic needs bags for the homeless and working with charities to make sure people needs are being met in whatever way. Once I have obtained my nursing degree, I plan to continue to further my career by getting my Bachelors in Nursing then Masters in Nursing as well as finish with getting my Nurse Practitioner license. Maybe afterward I could see myself opening up my own clinic to help those who can not afford health insurance or being turned away due to some fault in our system. I have been at Duke for almost 14 years as a NCA/HUC and everyday I see the daily struggles of those who are in so much need for support whether it be physical, emotional or spiritual. My nursing degree will be definitely be put to good use and an example of what helping others out mean to me and making not only my mother proud but my grandmother as well who has passed on. I have been in the nursing field for almost 24 years and I love ever day that I get to wake up and go to work and help those who are in need of a hug or a listening ear or someone who wants to be told that they are loved and not alone or just being that support when family is not around or have given up hope on their loved one. Becoming a nurse has been my dream for almost 30+ years and now that I'm actually getting that chance, I couldn't be more excited. And I'm ready to take whatever steps to achieve my dream.
micalyn ford
Chamberlain University-IndianaIndianapolis, IN
As cliche as it may sound, my mother is my inspiration. My mother is a strong black woman, and she was married to a white man in the 80`s and had 4 beautiful bi-racial girls. Her third child was born sick. For months my mother begged for someone to help her child, but no one would listen to her. The Drs. all told my mother she was crazy and didn't know what she was talking about. It wasn't until my sister was hospitalized that someone talked to my mother. They questioned her sanity, her competency, and her ability to care for her child. My mother always maintained her composure. Eventually, my sister was diagnosed with SCID, a condition similar to the boy in the bubble disease. As my sister grew older, her condition changed and sometimes worsened, and my mother promised she would only have the best care. So my mother educated herself on everything she could to help my sister. She was a full-time employee and mom. There were many times my mother would have to leave us with our dad so she could live in the hospital with our sister. Things between my parents deteriorated, and eventually, my parents separated. My mother raised all of us on her own, worked 2 jobs at a time, and still took care of my sister. My mother's love and determination grew, and she put herself thru college. She would go nights without sleep and days without food. She studied in between my sisters' procedures and therapies. She had the support and help from the amazing nurses and aides on my sisters' health care team. When the time came, she passed her NCLEX and got her degree. She became an LPN. There was never another opportunity for a dr or a nurse to tell my mother that she didn't know what she was talking about now. My mother stood by my sisters' side for everything and only gave her the best. Sadly my sister lost her battle with SCID in 2010. She was only 16 years old. Her death took us all by surprise. It has been 10 years since she passed. My mother is still an LPN and has taken a specialty to children with compromised diseases and conditions. She has also started her own healthcare business. She truly emulates what I want to be when I grown up. Once I finish school and pass my NCLEX i hope to be a wound care nurse. Ive had a passion and interest for it for years now. I discovered my passion for it while I was working as a CNA in a rehabilitation nursing home. I made roungs with the attending wound care specialist whenever I could. I hope when I become a nurse I am half as good as my mom. I have been pursuing this dream for 10 years now and if the opportunity is there I would love to get my doctorate in wound care and special diseases. I want to validate those who have been turned away and not believed. I want to help those patients that have been abandoned and give a voice to those who have not been heard. I want to make a difference not only for my patients but for my sister. Medicine has come a long way and I would love to find some answers to offer my family comfort about my sister. I owe it to her to be the best nurse i can be and that is exactly what i plan to do.
Jencyn Strickland
Lander UniversityConway, SC
I want to become a nurse to help the people and the world around me. I aspire to become a Pediatric Oncology Nurse, and help these children heal while also bringing awareness to the monster that is Childhood Cancer. I have always felt a calling to help others, and felt that God’s purpose for me was to spend my life caring for other people. Nursing is an extremely honorable career, and gives me the opportunity to truly help people. You see people in their worst times, and can be a light to them as they heal. I feel a passion to make change and to improve the world around me, even if it seems as simple as giving medications or helping someone walk for the first time after a surgery. My passion for pediatric oncology came from a lot of research and a personal experience. A local boy my age passed away in 2019 from Leukemia. This led me to start looking into pediatric cancer, where I eventually discovered that only 4% of all federal funding toward cancer research goes to children. Four percent. These children deserve far more than four percent. While people are aware of the impact of pediatric cancer, they aren’t as aware of the lack of modern developments toward curing childhood cancer, or really and truly how many families are impacted. Since then, I’ve spent every September drawing awareness for pediatric cancer and posting about going gold for September. While I understand nursing can be an emotionally draining job, I feel as though even one child who gets better from their cancer would be worth it. I want to dedicate my life to bettering the world around me and helping those who should be stood up for. To become a Nurse is an extremely important goal for me, and I have so much respect for nurses and all they do. As I go to graduate high school and choose my own career path, I plan to completely dedicate the next four years to working toward my BSN, and getting into the work force as fast as I can. I want to utilize my degree to the maximum capacity, and make sure all of my hard work was worth it. Which it will be, whether it be something as small as making a child smile or watching them ring the end of treatment bell. Nursing is an amazing profession and I can’t wait to become a nurse myself.
Tia Coffin
Duke UniversityDurham, NC
Upon beginning my undergraduate degree as a first-generation college student in 2010, I was unsure of my career path. Initially, I registered as Undecided, but after switching majors multiple times, I finally decided to major in Psychology. I was particularly interested in Psychology after taking and excelling in AP Psychology in high school. However, deciding how I wanted to utilize my Psychology degree post-graduation was difficult. I knew that I wanted to help others in the medical field, but I was not intrigued by the thought of only counseling patients. After doing some research, I was set on becoming a Physician Assistant. I began the prerequisite courses and clinical hours that were necessary to apply to Physician Assistant programs. Unfortunately, during my junior year of college, my older cousin was diagnosed with Stage II Breast Cancer. I watched her battle this unrelenting, progressive disease for two years and helped care for her while on college breaks. It was then that I decided that I wanted to take a more hands-on approach to helping patients. After graduating college in 2015, I obtained my Certified Nursing Assistant I license and immediately began working at a local hospital in the Neurology/Oncology Unit. Ironically, this was the same hospital and unit where my cousin was admitted before her transfer to Hospice and untimely passing in June 2014. The Neurology/Oncology Unit was deemed the “toughest” unit in the hospital, but I gained extensive skills and self-awareness as a healthcare professional. Becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant allowed me to work with amazing Nurses and make a difference in patients’ lives thus helping me choose to get a more advanced Nursing degree. While researching programs, I never thought that an Accelerated Nursing program was a good fit for me. The thought of a fast-paced program and how I would financially support myself seemed daunting. However, after talking with a friend about his transition from coaching high school football to being a thriving Duke Nursing student, I was determined to reconnect with my career goal. Duke University’s ABSN program stood out to me because the program’s length provides a swift career transition into applying my passion for providing exceptional healthcare. In response to financial hardship, I know that I will have to accrue more student loans and apply for scholarships, but instead of feeling overwhelmed and stagnant, I am determined to take the necessary steps to secure my Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. After graduating, I hope to work in Labor & Delivery, Postpartum Care, Mental Health, or Substance Abuse treatment. These specialties are important to my mission as a Nurse, because of my personal experiences and experiences of family members.
Obeaney Falaise
University of Massachusetts-BostonTewksbury, MA


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Jul 31, 2024. Winners will be announced on Aug 31, 2024.