Gannon University Nursing Student Among Five Pennsylvania TRIO Scholarship Winners

Posted: August 7, 2017

Gannon University's rigorous undergraduate nursing program demands a lot of its students in terms of time and commitment. Imagine the sacrifices a single mother of a young child would have to make to succeed.

Shiotta Boyd doesn't have to imagine them; she lives them every day. What's more, she has used her life's challenges as a springboard to her success. And she's been rewarded. Boyd, a full-time mother and a full- time, nontraditional student is one of five Pennsylvania residents who will be awarded a scholarship by the Pennsylvania Association of TRIO Programs. The award ceremony will take place in October.

Boyd moved to Erie from her native Meadville when she was 12. "It was a big change. Erie was a big city to me, and I hung around the wrong crowd, but I was always into school," she said. "I'm a big academic nerd, you might say."

When Boyd's son arrived when she was 16, she had a decision to make. "I had to sacrifice my social life so I could succeed in school, and I had to choose a local college because of my son." She received a scholarship through the Archbishop Gannon Scholars Program for students in the Erie Public Schools that have the academic credentials to be admitted to Gannon University, but do not have the financial ability to attend. Under the program, federal and state grant funds are the only resources a student would need to cover their tuition cost at Gannon University.

Boyd took full advantage of the opportunity. "She's very impressive," said Crista Gray, director of Student Support Services located in Gannon's Student Success Center. "She's an impressive student by any measure, but especially when you consider that she's a mom, a full-time student and she works."

Impressive, indeed. Boyd, was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau International, the Honor Society of Nursing, which accepts only the top 30 percent of students in the discipline.

Aiding her success as a student was the assistance provided by the TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) program, a federally funded program designed to help students maximize their skills and to assist them in working more effectively toward graduation. In collaboration with other offices at Gannon University, SSS offers academic, financial, career and personal guidance. Through the use of professional advisors, peer tutors and peer mentors SSS participants receive services such as individual tutoring, study skills workshops, guidance with course selection, financial literacy and career advising. 

Boyd's career path is certain. "Growing up, I wanted to be a teacher, but my mom is an LPN and wanted me to pursue a career in a health field," she said. Born prematurely, Boyd's son was in the neonatal intensive care unit for a week. The experience helped her to appreciate her mother's wisdom.

"Going into my senior year, it's taken a lot of dedication. If it wasn't for my family support, I probably couldn't do this," she said. "And without the scholarship I couldn't have been able to succeed. There have been times where I had to decide whether to buy the book or take care of my special needs child. Not a lot of people know how hard it is to be a single parent, so being recognized like this is so important."