Ann Arbor philanthropists' gift to create 10 annual free-ride scholarships for WCC nursing students

A recent $1 million gift to the Washtenaw Community College (WCC) Foundation by Ann Arbor philanthropists Stephen and Agnes Reading will provide full-tuition scholarships for 10 WCC nursing students. 

"It's a gift that has us excited and elated," says Phillip Snyder, associate vice president of the WCC Foundation. “One of my first thoughts was that because it's an endowment, it will be life-changing for lives now, and also in perpetuity."

Following a simple application process, the first 10 Reading Scholars will be selected for this upcoming winter semester. Each fall, the following year's scholarship winners will be chosen.

The scholarships will cover tuition, books, exam fees, and equipment needed to complete three years of nursing studies at WCC. Students who are interested in taking their studies further can transfer to Eastern Michigan University to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. 

Snyder shares that the Readings' gift was motivated by their own positive experiences with nursing care in the community. At a time when nurses are needed more than ever, the couple wanted to invest in nurses, which will in turn be an investment in the whole county. 

"WCC educates nurses who go out into all areas in our community. Whether it be hospital settings, senior living centers, nursing homes, or clinics, they are the ones who are doing the great medical work that is needed throughout our community," he says. "The Readings realized that if we could put more well-educated nurses on the ground in various positions, then the whole community is going to benefit from their work."

The Readings were also familiar with WCC's stellar nursing program, which takes a holistic approach to student development and boasts 150 graduates yearly. While the nursing program is one of the more affordable educational opportunities in Michigan, it's also one of the most expensive programs at WCC. As such, it's not uncommon for students to experience financial barriers. The program also requires students to pursue their studies in a linear way. 

"They have to continue semester after semester, and if they can't afford to do that for whatever reason, then they have to drop out and then they lose a lot of time getting back into the program and acclimatizing themselves again," Synder says. "Having the resources to continue with the program from start to finish, and semester after semester, is going to be simply transformational for hundreds of future nurses."

Jaishree Drepaul-Bruder is a freelance writer and editor currently based in Ann Arbor. She can be reached at

Photo by JD Scott Photography.
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