OC announces nursing scholarship endowment

L to R: Jim Gebhart (Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City president), Barry Stafford (Rebecca's father), Tonda Stafford (Rebecca's mother), Lauren Keck (Rebecca's sister), John deSteiguer (OC president)
L to R: Jim Gebhart (Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City president), Barry Stafford (Rebecca's father), Tonda Stafford (Rebecca's mother), Lauren Keck (Rebecca's sister), John deSteiguer (OC president)

Mercy donation, large matching gift help meet fundraising goal

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Oklahoma Christian University announced today the full endowment of the Rebecca Stafford Endowed Scholarship for Nursing.

A $10,000 gift from Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City helped meet the $50,000 fundraising goal, with a matching gift from an anonymous donor boosting the endowment to $100,000.

Rebecca StaffordRebecca Stafford, a former Oklahoma Christian University student, lost her three-year battle with cancer in March. After enrolling at OC in 2010, she was able to complete a number of classes despite moving in and out of remission, having countless infections, and undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

“Rebecca wanted to spend as much time as she could as a normal student. Students and people three or four times her age saw her and were inspired,” OC president John deSteiguer said. “The Rebecca Stafford Endowed Scholarship at Oklahoma Christian University is a remarkable tribute to the donors, to the family, to Rebecca and to God. It shows how God can work, and we’re grateful Rebecca’s impact is going to go on long after this.”

OC’s nursing students and faculty rallied around Rebecca as she battled Ewing’s Sarcoma. After she passed away on March 10 – two months shy of her 21st birthday – her family wanted to honor her and help more students earn their nursing degrees at Oklahoma Christian.

“During Rebecca’s illness, nurses were family,” said Rebecca’s mother, Tonda Stafford. “This scholarship can work for the good after everything she went through. It’s what we see is needed because good Christian nurses are amazing.”

Rebecca’s treatment began at Mercy after Dr. Frank Davis, the Staffords’ longtime physican, diagnosed her cancer in 2009.

“We’re honored to be able to contribute to this scholarship, which is close to our hearts for many reasons,” said Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City president Jim Gebhart. “This scholarship keeps Rebecca’s giving and loving spirit alive, provides a student with an incredible education at OC, and serves the community by educating and training future nurses – members of a profession we deeply respect and admire.”

“God calls us to make a difference. Rebecca touched many lives with her beautiful spirit and her amazing heart full of grace, courage, kindness and faith. And we hope what we’re doing will make a tremendous difference in helping others learn how to provide competent, compassionate care,” said Rebecca’s father, Barry Stafford.

Oklahoma Christian began its nursing degree program in 2006 to help address Oklahoma’s nursing shortage. In 2007, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education fully accredited OC’s nursing program.

In addition to the classroom curriculum and nursing clinicals at Oklahoma City metro-area hospitals, OC’s nursing program helps prepare students with a four-hour course in health care missions and Christian service. Many students participate in OC’s HonduraServe mission, a four-day trip to Honduras to see patients in various villages, clinics and hospitals.

OC nursing graduates frequently exceed the state and national averages on the National Council Licensure Examination, earning a 92 percent pass rate in 2012.

“Rebecca’s courage throughout her battle with cancer reminded us all that all patients deserve to have someone there, by their side, as they face the medical challenges that come their way,” said Linda Fly, OC’s director of nursing. “This gift will allow OC’s nursing program to train more Christian nurses to do just that.”

Oklahoma Christian will work to grow the endowment to provide scholarship funds for more nursing students. For more information, call (405) 425-5119 or email jo.griffin@oc.edu.

Checks and pledges can be sent to:

Oklahoma Christian University
Office of Advancement
c/o Jo Griffin
P.O. Box 11000
Oklahoma City, OK 73136-1100
(Indicate “Rebecca Stafford Endowed Scholarship for Nursing” on the memo line)