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Smiling students wearing scrubs
Nursing students

A $2 million gift from the Gilbert and Aileen Chuck Foundation aims to alleviate the state’s critical nursing shortage by providing full scholarships for top nursing students at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College for the next 10 years starting this fall.

Formal portrait
Gilbert and Aileen Chuck

The gift creates the Kam Scholars Program. The merit-based scholarship program will provide about half of the first- and second-year associate of science in nursing (ASN) students with enough funds to cover the costs of tuition and books, fees and other costs associated with attendance.

“Our current ASN students are experiencing multiple financial stressors, which create barriers to their learning,” said Mary Farmer, Allied Health Department chair.

“The Kam Scholars Program will make a tremendous impact on helping our students thrive in nursing school and beyond.”

Filling critical needs on Maui

Hawaiʻi has only 70% of the registered nurses (RNs) it needs this year, according to the most recent Healthcare Workforce Initiative Report from the Healthcare Association of Hawaiʻi. There were nearly 150 open positions for licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and RNs on Maui in 2022. The report noted that 39% of all LPN positions were vacant that year, up from 20% in 2019, while a quarter of all positions for medical-surgical RNs were vacant, and some specialties had a vacancy rate of up to 42%.

Gilbert and Aileen Chuck Foundation Trustee Ron Purdy said an investment in a nurse is an investment in an individual, their family and the Maui community for many years to come.

“We hope that the scholarships make the students’ enrollment a little easier and provide a feeling of accomplishment for their hard work in pursuing their careers,” Purdy said. “We are pleased to make a difference in the future for these aspiring students and that Maui’s health will be better for their hard work at the college pursuing their career.”

The Kam Scholars Program is named for Aileen Chuck’s father, Edwin T. Kam (1904–93), who was born on Kauaʻi, trained as a physician in China and at the University of Pennsylvania and had a longtime medical practice in Windward Oʻahu. Aileen Chuck died in June 2023, seven years after the death of her husband.

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