Nursing graduate surprises ISU with endowment

May 6 2007

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - For Daniel Lucky, a non-traditional student from Modesto, Calif., Saturday (May 5) was indeed his "lucky" day.

Lucky, along with his wife, Dianna, made the 2,200 mile trip to Indiana State University so he could participate in Saturday’s Commencement ceremonies at Hulman Center.

But that wasn't the only business at hand.

In addition to receiving his bachelor's degree in nursing, Lucky surprised university officials with a $25,000 gift to fund scholarships for male Indiana State nursing students. Roughly six to seven percent of all nurses today are male. Lucky believes more men should explore a career in nursing and is willing to do his part to assist others.

"I want to help men in nursing stay in the field and continue their education," Lucky said.

Helping men stay in the field is very important to Lucky, but for society and the nation’s healthcare it's critical.

"We are in the most critical nursing shortage we've ever known. There are 2.5 million nurses today. If there were an equal number of men as women in the field today, we'd have a surplus of more than 900,000 nurses," Lucky said, recalling research he had done while a student at ISU.

Early in his career while working as a paramedic, Lucky had early aspirations of being an emergency room nurse. He received training and realized that dream, becoming an emergency room registered nurse.

"I enjoy nursing. I like to spend time with patients," he said, adding "There are so many opportunities in this field."

Saturday was the first time Lucky set foot on the ISU campus, having earned his degree via distance education. ISU, partnering with The College Network, developed online degree programs to help nurses continue their education. The program allows for core courses to be completed online, with students completing clinicals at their local accredited healthcare facility.

"I checked out a lot of BSN programs," Lucky said, "Dr. Marcia Miller, a nursing faculty member, and Kim Cook, also of the College of Nursing, answered all my questions and faculty members were great. The ISU College of Nursing really took care of me, from the day I enrolled."

Lucky was able to make a difference in his home community while completing his degree. While completing a class in community nursing taught by associate professor Veda Gregory, he established multiple new programs with the Ceres Partnership for Healthy Children, thanks to assistance from the Ceres, Calif. Police Department and Abrams College.

Lucky’s goal was to provide new community-based programs while bringing in money to support those new programs for the city’s Hispanic population who have limited access to healthcare.

To get started, he needed to assess the needs of the community, with a population of more than 40,000 residents. Lucky accomplished this goal with the help of Police Chief Art de Werk. de Werk, who has dual masters degrees, was instrumental in directing Lucky to the proper resources in accomplishing his programmatic objectives. Programs designed and implemented by Lucky included CPR & First Aid certification, cardiovascular disease workshops and coordinating emergency services for community-based events in Ceres.

“I went on a ride-long with Sgt. Berber of the Ceres Police Department to get an impression of the city,” Lucky said. "I can't over-emphasize the importance and impact the department had on my project."

After pinpointing cardiovascular disease as one of the areas of concern, Lucky set up educational seminars dealing with hypertension and diabetes. With the help of Abrams College, who purchased blood pressure monitors for the project, he provided emergency services for a health fair at a local flea market.

“There were roughly 5,000 people in attendance,” Lucky said, “In fact; one of our first customers was having a heart attack. We called an ambulance and they transported the man to the hospital where he was treated,” Lucky said.

Lucky also made it possible for the police department to have a CPR/First Aid Instructor. Abrams College has offered scholarships for members of the Ceres Police Department Explorer Program to become an emergency medical technician. That person could conduct CPR courses to certify others within the community. Lucky, with the aid of interpreters, taught CPR courses in both English and Spanish.

“It’s a relationship that keeps on growing. And Indiana State University had a hand in it,” Lucky said.

Like other non-traditional students, he's had to do his share of juggling work, family and studies, just on a much larger scale.

Lucky founded Abrams College in 1994, and serves as the college's president. Abrams College is a vocational school that offers short-term certification in healthcare careers such as medical assistant, massage therapist, phlebotomy, electrocardiogram (EKG) technician, emergency medical technician, pharmacy tech, orthopedic technician and emergency room technician in addition to other offerings.

Besides serving as college president, he has been an RN for 14 years and a paramedic for almost 20 years. Lucky is also a private pilot, flight instructor and is currently attending the Police Academy to someday become a part-time reserve police officer for Ceres.

"This is a unique gift from a unique individual. We are deeply appreciative of Daniel's generosity and his interest in helping others pursue health care as a profession," said Lloyd W. Benjamin, president of Indiana State University.

The endowed scholarship comes on the heels of a $500,000 appropriation in new money for the nursing program which was approved by the Indiana General Assembly on April 29.

"There is a critical need to address the shortage of health care professionals. Daniel Lucky and the Indiana General Assembly are both making investments to help Indiana State address this challenge. We are excited about the opportunities these investments will create," said Esther L. Acree, interim dean of nursing.

Earlier this semester, Indiana State announced plans to create a new College of Nursing, Health and Human Services to place an emphasis on health-related professions and provide opportunities for collaboration between related fields of study.

Lucky's educational journey is not finished. He will begin work on his master's degree in nursing, specializing in family nurse practitioner, via distance education from ISU on May 15. But he doesn’t plan on stopping there.

"I will continue onto a Ph.D down the road. My goal is to have a career balanced between clinical practice, scholarly activities and teaching," he said.

Lucky received hands-on experience in the field of teaching while serving as a teaching assistant for first semester RN-BSN students under Betsy Frank, professor of nursing.

Frank put him in charge of technology, so he set up a technical issues forum where students would inquire with computer difficulties and a tips and tricks area, where he provided advice to other nurses learning online.

"Daniel has a very bright future. He will outshine all of us," Frank, who instructed Lucky in three courses and served as mentor, said.

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Contact: Kevin Hoolehan, ISU Foundation, (812) 237-8342

Writer: Paula Meyer, ISU Communications & Marketing, (812) 237-3783 or pmeyer4@isugw.indstate.edu

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Story Highlights

Daniel Lucky, along with his wife, Dianna, made the 2,200 mile trip to Indiana State University so he could participate in Saturday’s Commencement ceremonies at Hulman Center.

In addition to receiving his bachelor’s degree in nursing, Lucky surprised university officials with a $25,000 gift to fund scholarships for Indiana State nursing students, with a strong preference to male students. Roughly six to seven percent of all nurses today are male. Lucky believes more men should explore a career in nursing and is willing to do his part to assist others.

Bookmark and Share