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About the Foundation for Academic Nursing
Launched in January 2020, the Foundation for Academic Nursing is the philanthropic arm of AACN that raises funds to support new innovations in nursing education and practice. The Foundation serves as a focal point for AACN’s fundraising efforts while elevating the importance of academic nursing and our member schools in the philanthropic community.



About the American Association of Colleges of Nursing
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the national voice for academic nursing representing more than 850 schools of nursing nationwide. AACN establishes quality standards for nursing education, influences the nursing profession to improve health care, and promotes public support of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education, research, and practice. 



AACN’s Foundation for Academic Nursing Announces First Future Nurse Leader Scholarship Award Recipients

Published January 29, 2021

Foundation for Academic Nursing Logo

WASHINGTON, DC, January 29, 2021 – The Foundation for Academic Nursing, the philanthropic arm of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), is pleased to announce the first two graduate students to receive the Deborah E. Trautman Future Nurse Leader Scholarship. With funding provided by Liaison International, AACN’s partner in NursingCAS, the inaugural award winners are Taylor Bell, a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) student from the University of Florida, and Karina Strange, a PhD student from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

“Supporting and mentoring the next generation of nurse leaders is critical to shaping the future of academic nursing and health policy,” said Dr. Deborah Trautman, AACN President and Chief Executive Officer. “The caliber of this year’s scholarship applicants was impressive, and I look forward to working directly with the awardees on projects that will advance their leadership development and aspirational goals.”

Liaison International initiated this program in honor of Dr. Trautman to provide financial support and mentorship to outstanding graduate nursing students who aspire to leadership roles. Funded students must commit to participating in a one-on-one professional enrichment experience with Dr. Trautman at AACN’s headquarters in Washington, DC during the summer after the presentation of the award.

Meet the 2021 Scholarship Winners

Selected from a pool of 92 scholarship applicants, here are this year’s recipients:

Taylor J. Bell, BSN, RN is a second-year DNP-PMHNP student at the University of Florida (UF). During his BSN studies, Taylor actively sought out opportunities for scholarship and academic leadership. He was selected to be part of UF’s Engaging Multiple communities of BSN students in Research and Academic Curricular Experiences (EMBRACE) Program, where he participated in and disseminated research with his mentor, Dr. Leslie Parker. After graduation, Taylor worked in neurosurgery and orthopedics but soon realized his passions lay elsewhere. During the first year of his DNP program, Taylor realized that mental health care was his true calling. He has expanded his skillset by completing a 40-hour crisis counseling training and working as a volunteer phone crisis counselor in his community. Taylor’s professional interests include ethnic, sexual, and gender minority health disparities, LGBTQ+ mental health care, and the incorporation of comprehensive LGBTQ+ and ethnic minority educational interventions into nursing education. After graduation from the DNP program, he plans to complete a PMHNP residency program to deepen his clinical acumen. As a first-generation child of Jamaican immigrants, Taylor is humbled and honored to be one of the recipients of the Deborah E. Trautman Future Nurse Leader Scholarship. 

Karina Strange, BSN, RN is a public health nurse and a second-year BSN-PhD student at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Originally from Louisville, KY, Karina earned her BA in Cultural Anthropology at Vassar College. She has pursued her interests in cross-cultural teaching, learning, and community service by serving in AmeriCorps (2007) and the United States Peace Corps (Bulgaria, 2009–2012). During her Peace Corps service, Karina collaborated with fellow volunteers and with Bulgarian counterparts to teach English and to create sustainable youth development projects. She holds a BSN from the University of Louisville, where she received the President’s Outstanding Graduate Award. Since 2017, Karina has worked at Family Health Centers, a federally qualified clinic that aims to promote health equity in Louisville. While working, she is studying full-time for her PhD in Nursing and her graduate certificate in Nursing Education. Her primary research interests include mental and spiritual health needs of culturally diverse older adults. Karina is honored to receive the Deborah E. Trautman Future Nurse Leader Scholarship and will apply this leadership experience to her doctoral study and future research endeavors.    

Applying for a Scholarship

Administered by the Foundation for Academic Nursing, this scholarship is open to students in master’s or doctoral nursing programs offered at AACN member schools affiliated with NursingCAS, the nation’s only centralized application service for nursing programs. Students must show high academic achievement and list past experiences that illustrate a commitment to academic nursing. Applicants must be currently enrolled and in good standing at their school of nursing and also be members of AACN’s Graduate Nursing Student Academy (GNSA) (membership is free). A complete list of eligibility requirements and expectations are posted on the AACN web site.

Applications for the scholarship program are open and will be accepted through October 1, 2021. Scholarships will be awarded on November 30, 2021, and those selected for funding will make individual arrangements to complete the leadership development experience during the summer of 2022. To apply for the scholarship, click here.

For more information on this program and others available through the Foundation for Academic Nursing, please visit the web or contact Marta Okoniewski, AACN’s Director of Student Engagement, at To make a donation to the Foundation, click here.