A collage of portrait-style photographs of From left to right are Jillian Murphy Deaton (G'22), Angela Gonzalez (G'22), Abigail Spires (G'23), and Jessica Wert (G'23) with the seal of the School of Nursing & Health Studies.
News Story

Four Graduate Nursing Students Become First Scholars Through Transformative Johnson/Turpin Fellows Endowed Fund

November 2, 2021 – In June of 2020, Georgetown announced the creation of the Johnson/Turpin Fellows Endowed Fund – an endowment established through a $1 million gift from Luci Baines Johnson (H’18) and her husband, Ian Turpin.

John T. Monahan (C’83, L’87), interim dean of the School of Nursing & Health Studies, expressed gratitude to Johnson and Turpin for their generosity in creating the fund.

Georgetown President John J. DeGioia helps Luci Baines Johnson with her academic hood during Commencement with a blue curtain and a seal of Georgetown University behind them.

Luci Baines Johnson (H’18) and Georgetown President John J. DeGioia during the School of Nursing & Health Studies’ 2018 Commencement ceremony

“Ms. Johnson and Mr. Turpin have made a transformative gift to Georgetown that supports the formation of our students and fosters an important social impact,” he said. “Their commitment to our Jesuit values and to the field of nursing magnifies our mission-based work to promote the health and well-being of older adults and underserved communities.”

The four inaugural recipients – selected following an application process – are Jillian Murphy Deaton (G’22), Angela Gonzalez (G’22), Abigail Spires (G’23), and Jessica Wert (G’23). 

‘Tangible and Spiritual Impact’

Spires, who is working on her master’s degree in the Family Nurse Practitioner Program, said the scholarship supports her “passions.” “In my career, I hope to care for underserved populations, including the unhoused, refugees, and the elderly,” she said. “This scholarship will support me through the completion of my degree and further enable me to focus on working with suffering individuals.”

“This scholarship encompasses who I aspire to be as a future provider,” added Deaton, also in the FNP Program. “My goal is to make a tangible and spiritual impact on each patient I am fortunate enough to serve. This scholarship has given me the opportunity to continue in my studies and to serve the underserved population in my community as well as internationally.”

‘Pay it Forward’

Wert said that becoming a family nurse practitioner has been a longtime goal. “In 2014, a Georgetown family nurse practitioner changed my life and guided me through a personal health challenge,” she remembered. “I am so grateful to continue my education at the same program and to one day pay it forward with my own patients.” 

“To me, impactful family nurse practitioners care for their patients holistically, address each concern with compassion, think critically about differential diagnoses, and create a plan with the patient’s own goals in mind,” Wert described. “This is the type of nurse practitioner I hope to be, ideally caring for vulnerable, underserved communities.”

Luci Baines Johnson and Patricia Cloonan pose together in front of framed photographs on the wall.

Johnson with then-NHS dean Dr. Patricia Cloonan during John Carroll Weekend 2017 in Austin

Gonzalez said she is honored to receive the scholarship, noting she is earning her doctor of nursing practice degree in order “to serve the vulnerable.”

“At a young age, I was blessed with having my three grandparents move into our household, leaving me with a profound respect for the elderly,” she explained. “My professional experience in nursing only heightened my desire to get involved with public health initiatives and social policy that improve the care of vulnerable and underserved patients.” 

‘Service of Others’

Johnson, who is one of two daughters of President Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson, attended Georgetown’s School of Nursing in the mid-1960s before deciding to marry, which the school did not allow for students in the earlier part of their studies. 

In 2018, she was awarded the honorary degree at the School of Nursing & Health Studies Commencement and received a standing ovation in McDonough Arena following her address. (Visit the Washington Post coverage of the event and Johnson’s story.)  

“As health care professionals, every day you will have the great opportunity to lose yourself in the service of others,” she told the graduates that year. “And in return, you will find yourself again – every day.”

By Bill Cessato

Health Equity