Impact Stories

Bentson Scholarship Makes DNP Degree Possible

by Brett Stursa

As a pre-licensure nursing student, Naomi Toenies took several trips to Uganda, Africa to study the health care system there. “I was saddened by the lack of support and resources that I encountered in their health care system, particularly in the rural areas,” said Toenies.

Now a registered nurse working on a medical-surgical unit, Toenies knows she could bring her skills to Uganda. She aspires to have a greater impact so she looked into graduate degree programs.

Naomi Toenies
Naomi Toenies credits her Bentson Foundation Scholarship for making her DNP education possible.

She found the ideal fit in the University of Minnesota School of Nursing’s Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, as she appreciated that the program placed an emphasis not only on being a knowledgeable nurse practitioner, but also on developing nurse leaders who initiate and effect change. After getting accepted into the DNP program’s nurse practitioner specialty, Toenies was concerned she wouldn’t be able to afford it. The concern dissipated when she learned she was one of 40 students named a Bentson Scholar and was awarded a $20,000 scholarship. “I am forever grateful to the Bentson Foundation for their generosity and the impact they will have on health care because of their investment in DNP students like me,” said Toenies. The Bentson Foundation has committed to awarding $10 million in scholarships for DNP students in the University of Minnesota’s program.

After earning her DNP degree, Toenies hopes to work in rural areas in developing countries. “I want to use my knowledge and skills to help equip underprivileged individuals with the education, knowledge and support they need to take responsibility for their own health,” said Toenies.