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January 2009 Issue

The College of Nursing International Program, run by Tina Weitkamp (right), will benefit from a scholarship fund set up by Janet Johnson (left).
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Benefactor's Gift Helps Broaden Nursing Student Experiences

By Angela Koenig
Published January 2009

“Some people call it ‘life changing,’ but I call it ‘life impacting.’”

That’s the way Janet Johnson recalls her first medical mission trip to the Dominican Republic in the early 1990s.

It was one of three trips she’d make there during her nursing career, after becoming a registerd nurse in 1969 and then earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing at UC’s College of Nursing in 1992.

Providing medical services in a Third World country, where even basic care can be lifesaving, is something all nurses should have the opportunity to experience, Johnson says, and it’s one of the main reasons she decided to establish a scholarship fund to assist with the College of Nursing’s International Program.

“My thinking is that if a student could have that experience on the front end of their career, what a great way to begin and shape their views regarding health care!” she says of the fund, which is structured to contribute $150,000 to the program over the next five years.

While the scholarship is Johnson’s legacy, she and her husband, Timothy Johnson, a professor in the College of Business, have long been financial supporters of the program and UC through individual donations.

The decision to create an official scholarship fund, she says, was born out of those efforts. “It seemed to be a great fit—where ‘my heart’s passion meets a great need’—and a way to give students an opportunity they will carry with them always.

“It’s also a way to give back to the college and the university as a whole, which has always been so good to us,” she says. Because of Johnson’s generosity, “we are able to do more trips; and spend our time preparing students for the experience of a lifetime and not scrambling for funds,” says program director and associate professor of clinical nursing Tina Weitkamp.

Since 2002, the College of Nursing has partnered with other medical educators to send small groups of students to remote villages in Third World countries such as Honduras and Tanzania.

The average cost of sending a student to Honduras for about two weeks is $2,000, and Tanzania is $3,200, says Weitkamp.

“With the cost of college, I don’t know that students would be able to go without some assistance,” Johnson says, adding: “And we are in the season of our life where we are able to do this.”

The gift comes during UC’s capital campaign. For more information, visit

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