Cooper trauma nurse Laura Tolver, RN, of Edgewater Park, has been named a Tillman Scholar by the Pat Tillman Foundation. A student currently enrolled in the doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program at Rutgers University–Camden, she is one of only five nursing students nationwide, and only 61 students overall, to earn this highly competitive scholarship this year.
Tolver is one of two students attending Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, to receive this award. No other New Jersey university or college received a Tillman Scholarship in 2017.
Founded in 2008, the Tillman Scholars program supports active-duty service members, veterans, and military spouses through scholarship support covering direct study-related expenses, including tuition and fees, books, and living expenses. Recipients are pursuing undergraduate, graduate, or professional degrees at a U.S.-based accredited institution.
Tolver began her service in the U.S. Marine Corps in 2011. She was named recruit training honor graduate, received meritorious masts, and was awarded Squadron Marine of the Quarter. Stationed in North Carolina, she was an aircraft mechanic on the MV-22 Osprey.
It was her family ties that led Tolver to pursue a career in nursing. She was honorably discharged from the USMC in order to care for her father, who had suffered an anoxic brain injury. “For the first few months, I spent virtually every minute of every day in the hospital, interacting with his doctors and nurses,” she recalls. “I saw the care that he was getting, and I really wanted to be part of that for someone else.”
Tolver also was a support for her mother, who suffered from congenital heart defects and renal disease. But it was her grandmother’s example that ultimately compelled her to enroll in the accelerated bachelor’s degree program at the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden.
“My grandmother earned her master’s in nursing at a time when African Americans couldn’t practice in most areas of the country,” she says. “Her persistence and passion paid it forward for me, and her struggle taught me the value of dedication.”
After earning a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from Wilmington University, Tolver met with representatives from the Rutgers–Camden nursing school, who connected her with the Rutgers–Camden Office of Veterans Affairs. From there, she received the support and encouragement needed to realize her dream of becoming a nurse.
In May 2017, she received her bachelor of science in nursing degree from Rutgers University–Camden, where she currently is pursuing her doctor of nursing practice degree in adult gerontology. Tolver joined Cooper in 2017 and works in the Trauma Intensive Care Unit at the hospital.
“Life experience in any capacity is beneficial,” she says. “If you learned from a situation, consider it tuition.”
In 2002, Pat Tillman proudly put his NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals on hold to serve his country. Family and friends established the Pat Tillman Foundation following his death in April 2004 while serving with the 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan. Created to honor Tillman’s legacy of leadership and service, the Pat Tillman Foundation invests in military veterans and their spouses through academic scholarships to build a diverse community of leaders committed to service to others
Wendy A. Marano
Public Relations Manager