May 22, 2024

The Pollyanna Nursing Scholarship: Fostering the Next Generation of Nurses

PBA News

In 2017, Don and Sally Chester established the Pollyanna Nursing Scholarship at Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBA), and now, nearly seven years later, the endowment has reached the $500,000 threshold, creating countless, life-changing opportunities for nursing students.  

Growing Christian Nurses  

Don was a competitive triathlete, and on Christmas Eve of 2004 while out on a routine run, he was struck by a car, instantly becoming paralyzed from the chest down. Sally, a nurse herself, recalls those moments in the hospital, and remembers being moved by the extraordinary nursing team that cared for Don.  

“When I stood at his bedside and saw the magic of the nurses and the trauma team, but mostly the nurses because they are with patients 24 hours a day, I was never more proud to be a nurse than in those moments.”  

The nursing scholarship is in honor of Don’s first service dog, Pollyanna, also known as Polly, and its purpose is to support PBA nursing students at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral level. Polly was a beloved white Labrador Retriever trained to assist Don through many of his day-to-day needs.  

“We always had a little bit of a disagreement as to whose name should come first,” Don laughed. “The way to compromise was to name the scholarship after the dog.” 

Don and Sally are focused on growing nurses, and Sally, who studied nursing at a Christian college in New York, aligned with the mission of PBA to equip students to grow in wisdom, lead with conviction and serve God boldly.  

 “Because I am a product of a Christian college, it was important for me to have that extra dimension of caring,” Sally explained. “When I looked at your mission, it resonated with me, so it was not really hard for us to select where we wanted to support growing nurses… that potentially would be taking care of us.”  

Standing in a Sacred Place  

The Chesters have paved the way for future nurses at PBA, and they are advocates for holistic care. Sally believes that PBA helps cultivate nurses who are rooted in compassion and faith. Not only does PBA provide clinical expertise, but students also learn the importance of connecting with their patients on a human level.  

“I believe that nurses change lives,” Sally said. “We stand in a sacred place with our patients at the best and the worst times of their lives… to bring a dimension of caring is very, very important. I think PBA’s mission encompasses the kind of nurse that I always endeavor to be, and the kind of nurses that PBA produces.” 

The world needs more nurses, and Don and Sally are committed to nurturing the next generation of caregivers. As the Pollyanna Nursing Scholarship endowment surpasses the $500,000 threshold, the Chesters dream of creating life-changing opportunities for nursing students is becoming a reality. With each scholarship awarded, their legacy of resilience, compassion and faith continues to inspire future nurses to embark on their journey of healing and service. 

 To learn more about the Chester’s story and the Pollyanna Nursing Scholarship, click here.  

Photo credit: Bethany Baratelli

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