Georgia Baptist College of Nursing Welcomes Inaugural Class of Dedicated to Diversity Scholars


ATLANTA – Mercer University's Georgia Baptist College of Nursing recently welcomed 20 newly admitted Bachelor of Science in Nursing students to its inaugural class of D2D (Dedicated to Diversity) Scholars.

The D2D program, supported by funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration, aims to increase the diversity of the nursing workforce in order to meet the healthcare needs of patients. This multifaceted program is consistent with the College of Nursing's strategic plan and demonstrates a strong commitment to promote diversity among its student body, faculty and the nursing profession. Funding for the program was secured through a highly competitive process led by Lanell M. Bellury, Ph.D., RN, AOCNS, OCN, associate professor and primary investigator for the grant project.

“This has been an incredibly rewarding journey as all the programing we envisioned last fall has become reality,” said Dr. Bellury. “The D2D faculty and students are engaged and excited by this opportunity – the first of its kind in the College of Nursing.”

Mercer's first class of D2D Scholars include Ifunanya Amobi, Tabitha Belhomme, Suly Castillo, Tamecia Chelsey, Torlisia Davis, Tamika Dennis, Chavay Dickerson, Kristen Fields, Mildrede Gai, Amanda Henry, Teressa Hill, Helen Mwaura, Cassandra Pierce, Nicholas Reynolds, Adela Salguero, Mamadou Sanon, Jimina Smith, Toi Thomas, Rachael Wadley and Selam Yirgu.

These 20 students began the academic year early with a two-day intensive, immersion experience to promote their success in the College's rigorous BSN program. In addition to academic and financial support, the D2D Scholars will be provided opportunities for professional empowerment, social support and service learning.

“Our nursing program is strongly committed to improving the retention of our diverse nursing student population,” said Linda Streit, Ph.D., RN, dean of the College. “Our community of scholars and leaders are committed to facilitating the education of all students in order to create a highly productive workforce.”

The interdisciplinary collaboration of the D2D program incorporates faculty in the College of Nursing and College of Health Professions. Nursing faculty include assistant professor Tammy Barbe, Ph.D., RN, CNE; professor and Piedmont Healthcare Endowed Chair of Nursing Laura Kimble, Ph.D., RN, FNP-C, FAHA, FAAN; associate professor and associate dean for the undergraduate program Cindy Rubenstein, Ph.D., RN, CPNP-PC; assistant professor Jennifer Bartlett, Ph.D., RN-BC, CNE, CHSE; clinical assistant professor Natasha Laibhen-Parkes, Ph.D., RN, CPN; and assistant professor Mary Garvin-Surpris, Ph.D., RN. College of Health Professions faculty include professor and director of the Department of Public Health Huey Chen, Ph.D; and assistant professor Cheryl Gaddis, DrPH, MPH, CHES. 

The D2D Scholars program is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under grant number D19HP29808, Nursing Workforce Diversity Program, for $349,650. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official potion or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

About Health Resources and Services Administration

The Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the primary federal agency for improving access to health care by strengthening the healthcare workforce, building healthy communities and achieving health equity. HRSA's programs provide health care to people who are geographically isolated, economically or medically vulnerable.

About the Georgia Baptist College of Nursing

Founded in 1902 as a school of nursing, the Georgia Baptist College of Nursing is the oldest nursing program in Georgia. Over its 114-year history, the College has graduated more than 7,700 nurses. The College remains dedicated to educating the person, fostering the passion and shaping the future of nursing. The College merged with Mercer University in 2001 and offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a Master of Science in Nursing, a Doctor of Nursing Practice and a Ph.D. in nursing. The College of Nursing is one of four academic units within the Mercer Health Sciences Center.