New Georgia State University nursing graduate Kanika Coburn had plenty of reasons to be anxious about finishing her nursing education as part of the “COVID cohort” of nursing students, those students who completed most of their education under the constraints of the worldwide pandemic. However, thanks to a private scholarship, money for school wasn’t a concern.
The 4 South Scholarship, established by an anonymous Georgia State alumna, led Coburn to her dream job as a nurse in the high-risk perinatal unit of Northside Hospital-Atlanta.
“I didn’t have to worry about money for school my last semester, which gave me a leg up on submitting my resume to employers,” said Coburn. “I had a lot more time to search and apply for jobs.”
The donor named the 4 South Scholarship for her mother’s passion and colleagues of 40 years, the Piedmont Hospital auxiliary ladies who worked on the 4 South floor of the hospital.
“I was so impressed with the number of African American students who graduate from Georgia State, and I wanted to create an opportunity for those students who didn’t have the same financial opportunities that I did,” said the donor. “This scholarship makes me so happy to support students like Kanika. I’m so impressed with her.”
The scholarship matched up perfectly with Coburn’s needs. She had been a recipient of the prestigious Zell Miller Scholarship, given to top Georgia students attending University System of Georgia colleges and universities. The Miller award covers tuition up to 127 credit hours.
Students who go over the credit hour limit must find other ways to pay for their education.
“The exact amount I got from 4 South was the amount [of money] I was short from the Zell Miller scholarship. Everything fell right into place,” said Coburn.
An ambitious dual enrollment high school student, Coburn nearly didn’t attend Georgia State. Accepted at universities across the country, including Howard University and Pepperdine in California, she started her college experience at another Georgia university.
Coburn’s mother initially discouraged her from going to Georgia State. Ironically, they both earned a degree from Georgia State simultaneously; her mother completed a master’s degree in finance in the spring.
Coburn planned for a nursing career in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) but took a job in her second choice area, high-risk perinatal (HRP) care, which will lead her to the goal of working in the NICU.
“[HRP] is a good segway into the NICU because what happens to mom affects the baby,” said Coburn.
Practicing as a new nurse in one of Atlanta’s largest hospitals challenged Coburn, especially as COVID rates rose.
“It’s an interesting time in healthcare,” Coburn said. In women’s health, she must deal with both vaccinated and unvaccinated patients.
“I have no issues with unvaccinated patients. They still need and deserve my care.”
Coburn acknowledged that vaccination issues are more complicated in expectant mothers, with two lives at stake. She noticed that many of the patients with COVID were much sicker recently than early in the pandemic.
Coburn felt the Lewis College nursing faculty prepared her and her classmates well for nursing jobs despite ongoing COVID challenges. Her class had only one clinical experience in the hospitals before COVID forced the students into online learning. However, the faculty worked hard to give the students the best possible learning experience using online labs, practice assessments with friends, family, pets, etc., before opening the COVID vaccine clinic for actual hands-on experience.
Coburn attributed the COVID vaccine clinics on the Georgia State campus to making her comfortable interacting with live patients and giving shots.
“I got to give my mother a shot, as she was a Georgia State student at the time,” said Coburn.
— written by Angela Go