Released on July 1, 2024
Eight female UCF nursing students in black logo scrubs stand outside with trees in the background.
Eight UCF accelerated second degree BSN students who received the 2024 Helene Fuld Health Trust Scholarship. (Photo: Dana Weisman)

Meet eight individuals whose diverse career paths have converged with a shared ambition: to become a Knight nurse. Thanks to the generous support of the Helene Fuld Health Trust, these career changers can focus on fulfilling their calling to care for others.

The Helene Fuld Health Trust Scholarship is an exclusive opportunity for students in the accelerated Second Degree BSN program who may not otherwise qualify for financial aid.

Meet the 2024 Scholars

UCF nursing student Kamryn Auger

Kamryn Auger

Balancing the accelerated program’s rigorous studies with clinicals is something the recent graduate from North Carolina knows a lot about. Auger achieved an impressive 4.0 GPA in her bachelor’s degree program in biological sciences while working as a nursing assistant and actively volunteering in the community. While she always had an interest in healthcare, she didn’t discover her interest in nursing until her junior year when she began to work as a nursing assistant. “I’ve been able to watch how closely nurses work with patients throughout their stay, the relationships that are formed, and the opportunities for continuous learning,” she says. Her goal is to work in women’s health but is open to the endless possibilities her second bachelor’s degree in nursing will give her.

UCF nursing student Elizabeth Coleman

Elizabeth Coleman

Coleman has had a lifelong passion for helping and uplifting others, whether its volunteering in the community or as simple as helping her little sister. She also has a strength in empathy, able to engage with people on a universal level to form connections and show compassion. This trait and passion led her to pursue a career in healthcare. After graduating with honors with a bachelor’s degree in biology, and researching opportunities in the healthcare field, she found her calling in nursing. “I have seen the commitment nurses have to bettering the health of patients and selflessly caring for others,” she says. She looks forward to having the opportunity to positively impact a person’s life every day, first as a registered nurse and later as a nurse practitioner.

UCF nursing student Stephanie DeFreitas

Stephanie DeFreitas

As a certified clinical medical assistant, DeFreitas has worked in many specialties and continually sought-out learning opportunities and ways to connect with patients. However, it wasn’t until the roles were reversed, when she became the patient after being diagnosed with a life-changing illness, that she gained a full perspective of being the one tested and examined. “The nurses who advocated for me are a part of the many reasons I have to pursue nursing and advance my career in healthcare,” she says. “I want to be more present for my patients and a more valuable part of their care.” DeFreitas plans to initially work as a nurse in emergency medicine before advancing into trauma care. Later in her career, she plans to contribute to nursing research and advance healthcare.

UCF nursing student Laila Hamdan

Laila Hamdan ’23

During her undergraduate studies in clinical psychology, Hamdan planned to become a pediatric psychologist. While working as a patient care technician at a local hospital, she realized she wanted a more immediate, hands-on approach to healthcare through nursing. This experience ignited her passion for becoming an integral part of the healing process and contributing significantly to the healthcare field. “I understand the importance of not only addressing physical needs but also being attuned to the emotional well-being of patients,” she says. After graduating, she plans to work as a psychiatric or NICU nurse. Her long-term goal is to pursue a doctoral program to become a nurse practitioner, where she would be able to further help patients and eventually precept aspiring nursing students.

UCF nursing student Ryan McGuire

Ryan McGuire ’22

“Creating meaning remains the gift of being human, something we can give to others even when it cannot last longer than a day,” says McGuire, a psychology graduate who previously worked as a legal assistant and volunteered as a grief facilitator. She’s used to meeting people where they’re at as individuals, and plans to continue as a nurse. After graduation, she plans to work in a critical care-focused oncology unit. She shares, “my goal is to make space in healthcare to live for the sake of living well, rather than living simply for the sake of being alive.”

UCF nursing student Isadora Pazetti Nunes

Isadora Pazetti Nunes

Nunes has always loved to help others, tutoring and training since high school. “I loved every second of it, because every time I felt like I was making a difference,” she says. It was a moment in high school when she couldn’t help — when her dad needed medical care — that she found a career choice and passion in healthcare. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in medical science and nutrition last year with plans to go to medical school. But, after a death in her family, she decided to change paths to nursing. “I cannot wait to be the healthcare provider who inspires children to go into healthcare, like the providers who cared for my dad were for me,” she says. After earning her nursing degree, she plans to work as a nurse in an ICU to gain experience before completing a doctoral program to become a nurse anesthetist.   

UCF nursing student Ambar Velazquez

Ambar Velazquez

For a decade, Velazquez followed her passion and worked for a local nonprofit serving underserved families and communities. She counseled families navigating stressful situations, partnered with community leaders for safer, stronger communities, and learned how to advocate for those unable to advocate for themselves. Now, at 35, she felt called to a new career as a RN. “I have loved committing my life to working with underserved families in Central Florida. As I enter a new chapter, I am excited and thankful to build my skill set and follow my passion in a new profession.” After earning her nursing degree, she plans to build critical care nursing skills while continuing to work with underserved communities and eventually, earn a doctoral degree in nurse anesthesiology.

UCF nursing student Enae Weber

Enae Weber ’24

Weber’s desire to help others initially led her to pursue a psychology degree at UCF. However, personal experiences during her bachelor’s program caused her to change course to nursing. First, her mother began experiencing health issues and then, COVID-19 became a pandemic. Through both events, Weber was inspired by the compassion and resilience of nurses. After taking a brief hiatus from her degree program, she “rediscovered (an) interest in science and realized the profound impact I could make as a nurse.” Her goal is to work in an intensive care unit upon completing her BSN, “paying forward the gift my mother’s care team gave to our family,” she says. Eventually, she plans to pursue a graduate degree to work in advanced practice or teach the next generation of nurses.

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