Shelley Aurand is one of five Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadets in the nation selected for a special program allowing nursing graduates to delay active duty to pursue a graduate degree full time.
Aurand, who was commissioned as an Army nurse in December and graduated the next day with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, was chosen for the program by the U.S. Army Recruiting Command’s Nurse Practitioner Health Professions Scholarship Board. Unlike other commissioned graduates, she will not go directly into active duty and will continue her education to become a psychiatric and mental health nurse practitioner.
The scholarship covers all her tuition, housing, books and health insurance and allows her to dedicate her time to her studies.
“I’m very blessed and humbled to receive this,” says the Niles, Mich., native. “I was ecstatic and couldn’t believe it at first. I was completely flabbergasted.”
Aurand had wanted to be a nurse since childhood and always wanted to help people who were injured or vulnerable. The idea of pairing that with military service came into focus after Brett Johnson, scholarship and enrollment officer in the WMU Department of Military Science and Leadership, visited her high school to talk to her nursing class about Army ROTC.
Aurand had a close uncle who had served in Vietnam. He received little support for the post-traumatic stress disorder he suffered from after returning. His experience helped inspire her to become a mental health nurse practitioner.
Aurand says the WMU College of Health and Human Services, Bronson School of Nursing and Army ROTC program have all been instrumental in helping her achieve her goals.
“I’ve learned a great deal from all the professors,” she says, “and ROTC has supported me in my choice to become a mental health nurse practitioner. I think they’ve prepared me exceptionally well for graduate school and life in the military.”