Scholarship provides nontraditional veteran student the opportunity to pursue his passion in nursing

Miguel Carunungan and his wife (pictured center) with members of the Stanhagen family. 

Thanks to the Jean P. Stanhagen Scholarship, a WVU School of Nursing Bridgeport Campus student has been able to pursue his dream of becoming a nurse.

Miguel Carunungan, who is set to graduate from the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program in August, found the Stanhagen scholarship invaluable in continuing his education.

“Especially having a family, it has been immensely helpful,” Carunungan said. “It allows me to pursue my dreams without having to worry about the financial burden.”

Carunungan has long dreamed of becoming a nurse. He had enrolled as a traditional student in nursing, but found he was not emotionally or academically ready for the challenge of the program.

After serving in the U.S. Army as a combat medic and pursuing other educational paths, Carunungan volunteered as an emergency medical technician, which reignited his passion for medicine. He decided to return to nursing, this time in the Accelerated BSN program at Bridgeport.

“As a veteran, nontraditional student, the thing that I love most about my accelerated-BSN cohort here at the Bridgeport Campus is that — for the first time and unlike my first bachelor's — I don't feel like the odd duck out. Many of my classmates share similar life experiences, have families, and are of a similar age.”

After graduation, he plans to work in critical care and the emergency department while obtaining advanced certifications to ultimately become a flight nurse. Thanks to the generosity of the Stanhagen family, Carunungan is one step closer to realizing that dream.

“Students with nontraditional backgrounds and second-degree students are not eligible for many of the standard grants that many students get,” Carunungan said. “Additionally, financial aid, in general, is significantly reduced. So, unless people receive scholarships, you either have to work at or near full-time, which can be a recipe for disaster, or you have to take out extremely high-interest loans that would put a huge strain on you in the future.”

Carunungan and his wife met several members of the Stanhagen family several months ago for dinner. They learned more about one another, and the family gifted Carunungan a top-of-the-line stethoscope and carry case, several gift cards and a WVU backpack filled with Jean’s favorite goodies, such as Milky Way candy bars.

“The Stanhagen family was so caring and welcoming. It quickly became apparent that meeting me wasn't a simple formality of putting a face to a name, but that they truly had an interest in me and had an earnest want for me to be successful,” Carunungan said. “The Stanhagen family are amazing people, and I was in complete and utter shock after meeting them because I had never met people that would show so much unfettered caring and generosity, especially towards someone who is, by all intents and purposes, a complete stranger to them.”

He found the stethoscope especially meaningful, as it was engraved with Jean’s initials.

“I use the stethoscope every day at work and school because meeting them and hearing about Jean's life touched me. I use the stethoscope as a reminder. I want to live up to Jean's legacy, the scholarship's namesake,” Carunungan said. “From what they told me, she was an amazing woman, and I so wish I could have met her. Right after the dinner, my wife and I actually went to the donor walkway in front of the Wise library, found her name, and thanked her personally. Not for the scholarship, but for who she was and what she did.”

Carunungan encourages potential donors to consider his story, along with other students who want to pursue nursing but struggle with financial barriers.

“Unlike many careers, nursing is an inherently unselfish profession. Any nurse will tell you that even your best day as a nurse is hard. You work tirelessly through long shifts, often sacrificing your own comfort and well-being for the sake of your patients and your community. People who pursue nursing are not pursuing fame or fortune, they are pursuing sacrifice, dedication and an unwavering commitment to helping others. Wouldn't you want more people like that in the world?

Carunungan continued, “Your donation can provide scholarships to aspiring nurses who might not otherwise have the means to pursue their dreams. When you donate to the WVU School of Nursing, you are investing in people who are the future health and well-being of our society. But beyond the tangible benefits, a donation sends a powerful message — a message that says, ‘I believe in the power of nurses, and I want to be a part of their journey.’”

To learn more about gifting opportunities, please contact Dr. Kimberly Colebank, WVU School of Nursing Director of Development, at or 304-293-1764. The WVU Foundation is the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.


CONTACT: Wendy Holdren
Director of Communications and Marketing
WVU School of Nursing