October 31, 2014  

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Southern Miss Doctor of Nursing Practice Student Named Jonas Scholar

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Arlen Cooper

Arlen Cooper, a student in the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program at The University of Southern Mississippi, has been selected as a Jonas Scholar by the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence.

Cooper, a Vicksburg, Miss., native, works as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner with Delta Community Mental Health Services located in the Mississippi Delta. As a scholar in the Jonas Nurse Leaders Program, Cooper receives $20,000 to assist with her DNP degree studies.

“My initial reaction upon learning of this award was one of disbelief,” said Cooper. “I am so humbled to have such an honor bestowed upon me. It is a privilege and an honor to represent the University of Southern Mississippi and the State of Mississippi as a leader committed to the future of health care.”

Dr. Katherine Nugent, dean of the College of Nursing at Southern Miss, notes that the award requires Cooper to complete a leadership project according to the guidelines that incorporates recommendations from The Institute of Medicine’s report: “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health.”

“This is the first Jonas Scholar at Southern Miss,” said Nugent. “The support of this scholarship, the mentoring of Dr. (Anita) Boykins and the professional development offered through the Jonas Scholar Program will enhance Arlen’s work as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner in a rural area and her passion for advocacy and health policy.”

Boykins, who serves as director of the Southern Miss DNP program, emphasizes that the scholarship will enable Cooper to make significant changes in her practice as a DNP prepared nurse leader.

“Arlen’s contribution to ensuring positive health outcomes for individuals with psychiatric diagnoses and addressing health care delivery issues such as high-quality care and access to care will be accomplished through interprofessional collaboration and examination of policy and practice issues,” said Boykins.

Launched in 2008 with six scholars in three states, the Jonas Nurse Leaders Scholar Program now includes more than 200 students in nearly 85 schools across the United States.

Cooper received her Baccalaureate of Science in Nursing from Alcorn State University and her Master’s of Science in Nursing from Southern Miss in community health nursing with an emphasis in nursing education. She also completed her post graduate studies required for certification for nurse practitioner at Southern Miss.