Akron: Cleveland Clinic Akron General and the Akron Chapter of the National Black Nurses Association have selected the first winner of a $2,000 scholarship to honor Muriel L. Walker, who was the first African American nurse employed at People’s Hospital, which later became Akron General.
The winner is Ariana Williamson, who has worked at Akron General as a nurse technician since July 2019. She plans to graduate in December from the University of Akron with a dual degree in nursing and Spanish.
“Getting two degrees has meant being in school five years,” Williamson said. “My scholarships all ended after four years, so this award is particularly helpful in allowing me to really focus on my final courses and licensure examination prep.”
Williamson, 23, who is also certified in Advanced Spanish for Health Professionals, experienced serious health problems when she was in 6th grade. Her deep appreciation for the excellent care she received at Cleveland Clinic led her to pursue a job in pediatric nursing within the Cleveland Clinic health system after graduation.
“We are pleased to honor the incredible legacy of Muriel L. Walker through this scholarship to Ariana, who is very active in our chapter,” said Deandreia Mayes, BSN, RN, NE-BC, a nurse manager at Akron General and president of the Akron chapter of the National Black Nurses Association.
Mayes said the scholarship committee was impressed that so many of Williamson’s activities aligned with the organization’s goals. Williamson is president of UA’s Student Nurses Association, Secretary of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, a Choose Ohio First STEM Scholar and president of the UA chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Williamson also serves as a peer mentor for the School of Nursing and STEM, and was the university’s homecoming queen in 2019.
The scholarship was created earlier this year to honor the legacy of Walker, a registered nurse who worked at Akron General from 1948 to 1992. In addition to being the first African American nurse at the hospital, Walker was also the first African American employee in any capacity. She served the hospital and the community in many ways, including being on the board of Edwin Shaw Memorial Hospital and Rehabilitation Center and the board of the Internal Brotherhood Home for Alcoholism Treatment. She was also active in politics, serving as a delegate to the 1976 and 1980 Democratic National Conventions. She passed away in 2017.
Any Akron General employee who self-identifies as a member of an underrepresented minority population and who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nursing (preferably in their junior or senior year) at an accredited nursing school is eligible for the scholarship.