NATCHITOCHES – Brianna Benfer has always wanted to work in the medical field but struggled to decide her area of specialization. Supporting her young sister through a difficult breast cancer diagnosis, Benfer was inspired to combine the compassion from her personal experience with the resiliency of being a military spouse and study nursing at Northwestern State University so she can help better the lives of others.
Benfer is one of 16 recipients of an award from the Corvias Foundation, a private foundation created by Corvias CEO John Picerne to support education opportunities for military families. The 2021 scholars, who are each the spouse of an active-duty service member stationed at a Corvias installation, will receive a one-time scholarship of $5,000 that will be used towards acquiring a higher education degree.
“I was so honored to be picked as a recipient,” Benfer said. “I am currently in my last semester of the ASN-RN program. I plan to graduate in December, then sit for my NCLEX. I will also begin taking courses for my BSN in the Spring and hope to obtain my BSN within a year.
Benfer’s husband has been in the Army for nine years. They are originally from New Jersey and have lived in Alaska, Washington and now Louisiana following his military career.
“I started nursing school just a few months before the COVID pandemic, then the following semester we had two hurricanes,” said. “I have found NSU to be accommodating, given the circumstances. There is also a great NSU military liaison at Fort Polk, Michelle Stephens, who is always there to help with any issues that may arise.”
“Military spouses face significantly higher unemployment rates and wage gaps due to their unique lifestyles that revolve around frequent moves, deployments, the need for childcare and more,” said Maria Montalvo, executive director of Corvias Foundation. “To combat these career challenges, Corvias Foundation designed this scholarship program to help military spouses earn degrees that will better enable them to secure employment and help provide for their families.”
The funds provided can be used by the recipients for expenses associated with receiving their degree, such as transportation to class, childcare and school fees. Financial support is especially important this year as finances and employment opportunities have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since 2006, Corvias Foundation has awarded nearly $15 million to military children, spouses, and children of Corvias employees across 13 Army and Air Force installations.
“I have always wanted to work in the medical field and began as a medical assistant, then I decided to further my education so I can help patients even more,” Benfer said. “I have a sister who was diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age. Being with her during her first appointments opened my eyes to the many different opportunities nurses have to help better the lives of their patients. I hope to one day become a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner.”
For information on Northwestern’s military options for active duty, retirees, Active Guard and Reserve and military dependents visit https://www.nsula.edu/military/.