Future of Health Scholarship Program Honors 10 HBCU-Bound Students

Both of Brooke Brothers’ parents attended historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Now, the recent St. George’s Technical High School graduate will follow in their footsteps this fall, thanks in part to a scholarship from ChristianaCare intended for students attending HBCUs who are interested in pursuing careers in health care.

Brothers will attend Delaware State University in the fall, where she will major in nursing. She will spend her summers interning at ChristianaCare to get valuable firsthand experience in caring for patients.

Chief People Officer Neil Jasani, M.D., MBA, FACEP, presents aspiring physician Brooke Brothers with her HBCU Scholars certificate. She will attend Delaware State University.

Congratulations to the inaugural Future of Health Scholars:

Aniyah Barnett, Hampton University.

Brooke Brothers, Delaware State University.

Solomon Devard, Lincoln University.

Mychele Gibson, Howard University.

Aa’khai Hollis, Bowie State University.

Kianna Kelley, Delaware State University.

Delaney Leonard, Howard University.

Madison Perry, Jackson State University.

Tania Paden, Delaware State University.

Cierra Holmes, Delaware State University.

“I love kids, taking care of them and watching over them, and I would like to take care of them medically as well,” said Brothers, who has an interest in pediatrics.

“The scholarship and internship from ChristianaCare mean I can gain more experience and further my career as well by expanding the specialties I can work in.”

Brothers was one of 10 Delaware high school graduates receiving scholarships and additional support from ChristianaCare as part of an inaugural program with the HBCU Week Foundation to strengthen and diversify the health care workforce. The students were honored on June 6 during a luncheon at the Hilton Wilmington/Christiana.

Through its Future of Health scholarship program, ChristianaCare is providing $500,000 in support—$12,500 annually, per student—plus a paid internship each summer while they are in college.

‘Opening the door’ to diversify health care

“Partnering with the HBCU Week Foundation this year was an exciting new adventure for ChristianaCare, and one we knew we needed to be a part of, given our commitment to the community and to building our health care workforce of the future–in and of the community,” said Bettina Tweardy Riveros, J.D., chief health equity officer and senior vice president of Government Affairs and Community Engagement.

On the road to Delaware State University: Kianna Kelley receives congratulations from her dad.

“It is important for us to remove barriers that are impacting Delaware residents from being able to pursue higher education at historically black colleges and universities,” Riveros said.

“Being able to offer scholarships, internships and support to these students is another way that we know we are opening up the door to diversify the health care profession.”

According to Forbes magazine, with a national enrollment of about 300,000, HBCUs play a major role in graduating Black students with bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields.

Talking with the inaugural scholars, Ashley Christopher, Esq. (right), founder and CEO of the HBCU, said “the medical field should reflect the communities it serves, and this partnership is one way to help make that happen.”

“The HBCU Week Foundation is proud to partner with ChristianaCare to help support these future health care professionals by giving them the academic and networking experiences needed to excel in their intended career choices,” said Ashley Christopher, Esq., founder and chief executive officer of HBCU Week Foundation.

“The medical field should reflect the communities it serves, and this partnership is one way to help make that happen.”

Backing a commitment with an investment

The scholarships represent an ongoing approach by ChristianaCare to improve health equity, community health and inclusivity and diversity.

The HBCU Scholars Program is a path forward with academic and networking experiences in health fields. Receiving her certificate from Dr. Jasani, Delaney Leonard will attend Howard University.

In 2020, ChristianaCare made a public commitment to being an anti-racism organization. For its efforts, ChristianaCare ranked as the No. 2 employer for diversity and inclusion in the health care industry and the No. 40 employer in the nation overall by Forbes.

“If you want to know more about an organization, see where they invest their dollars. An investment of $500,000 for Delaware residents who choose to go to HBCUs says a lot. The fact that it comes with summer internships for every year and the expectation of employment at the end shows that we are an organization with a commitment,” said Pamela Ridgeway, MBA, MA, SPHR, chief diversity officer and vice president of talent for ChristianaCare.

The ‘why’ means everything

Even before graduating from high school with a 4.0 GPA, Tania Paden was working as a certified nursing assistant at Exceptional Care for Children, a skilled nursing facility in Newark, Delaware. She has dreams of becoming a nurse and hopes to make them come true at Delaware State University, where she will study nursing, said her mother, Ayisha Holmes.

“You hear about organizations giving scholarships, but you never hear about their ‘why’. To hear that it was more than just writing a check means a lot. And to have the network and resources to support these kids means everything. It’s just wonderful to have this type of opportunity,” Holmes said.

Here with his mom Samtra, Solomon Devard said he feels “like being part of an HBCU is going to be really good for my future.”

Solomon Devard knew in his junior year at MOT Charter High School that he wanted to attend an HBCU. He is heading to Lincoln University to major in information technology.

“Being around people who are just like me could impact me more. I feel like being part of an HBCU is going to be really good for my future,” said Devard, who studied computer science and biotechnology while in high school.

His mom, Samtra, said she appreciates the extra attention her youngest son will be getting as part of the scholarship from ChristianaCare.

“Solomon is going to be going to school and also playing baseball, so his plate will be full. Knowing that he has the support—financially, academically, and to build his skills with the internship—is really, really amazing.”