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COLUMBUS, Miss. -- A career in caring is honored with the naming of the Bill and Jo-Ann Vandergriff Plaza on the campus of Mississippi University Women.

The campus community recently gathered outside the south entrance of Martin Hall to honor W alumni Jo-Ann Vandergriff and her husband, Bill Vandergriff. The plaza was dedicated for their efforts in establishing an endowed scholarship for the school of nursing.

“The Vandergriffs have very generously shared their resources with The W to help current and future nursing students achieve their dreams of becoming a nurse practitioner or a nurse,” said Dr. Sheila Adams, dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

The plaza welcomes students, faculty and staff as they approach the south entrance of Martin Hall, home of The W’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences. The outdoor space is composed of ample seating, surrounding landscaped elements.

Jo-Ann Vandergriff described the event as “awe-inspiring.”

She received her master’s degree of science in nursing from The W in 1990. She was born in Water Valley and graduated from Horn Lake High School. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Mississippi.

VandergriffsAfter the completion of her advanced degree, the Vandergriffs opened a small clinic in Crenshaw to meet the healthcare needs of rural Mississippians. The Vandergriffs eventually ventured West to provide the first mobile health service to the Navajo Nation in Utah. With more than a 20-year career in emergency medicine, she currently provides family nurse practitioner services in occupational medicine.

Bill Vandergriff is active in his career as a businessman and entrepreneur. As a certified mentor with Service Corps of Retired Executives, he mentors new entrepreneurs and assists them in implementing their business ideas.

Recently, the Vandergriffs challenged The W to provide $250,000 in scholarship opportunities for nursing students. When the goal was met, they agreed to match the opportunity, totaling $500,000 in scholarships for W nursing students. They hope donors to The W are encouraged to add to the Jo-Ann Vandergriff endowed nursing scholarship to continue to increase its value and number of scholarships.

“The value of this gift will become even more fully evident in future years as those nursing students graduate, enter the profession at advanced levels and begin impacting healthcare wherever they live,” said Adams.

The Vandergriffs strongly believe education is the key to overcoming poverty, improving personal economic conditions and improving overall health and happiness of the family and community. The Vandergriffs hope the scholarship will provide an affordable education in the field of nursing that will both inspire and challenge students to give back to their community and The W.

Nov. 20, 2017 
Contact: Tyler Wheat
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