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Inspiring the Aspiring

Kendall Austin stands in front of a banner

Inspiring the Aspiring

Carol Vermeesch, undergraduate program coordinator and professor in the College of Nursing, has been a guiding force for more than two decades’ worth of future nurses, as they fulfill the requirements of their degree and go on to work in the healthcare field.

And she has watched many of them valiantly balance classes and clinicals with part-time jobs. “I see the struggles when students enter this program—it’s an expensive program, and it’s an intensive program. Clinicals start at 7:00 in the morning, and it’s hard for students to fit in work to pay the bills,” Carol says.

It is a struggle both Carol and her husband Joe know all too well—each were responsible for paying their own way in college and finding practical ways to make ends meet. For Carol, that meant working part-time and commuting from home to save on living expenses. For Joe, it was a co-op program. But for both of them, a strong work ethic and encouragement from their supportive families made the biggest difference.

Now, students in the College of Nursing have support, too—from Carol and Joe Vermeesch.

In 2014, the couple made a $50,000 gift to create the Vermeesch Regnier Endowed Scholarship to honor Carol’s parents, Earl and Angeline Regnier, and Joe’s parents, Joseph and Esther Vermeesch. Each year, a student is chosen for an award of more than $2500.

Kendall Austin, a senior in the College of Nursing, is the 2019-2020 recipient.

From childhood, Kendall knew two things for sure: she wanted to become a nurse, and she wanted to attend Michigan State. Here, her passion and ambition have flourished as she embraces what it means to be not just a nurse, but a “Spartan Nurse,” who demonstrates leadership and has compassion for everyone, regardless of their background.

“I plan to take everything I have learned and make a difference in the world,” Kendall says. “I have plans to pursue travel nursing, and cross international borders to help provide healthcare in areas that may not be as advanced as we are.”

As she finishes out her college career, the Vermeesch Regnier Scholarship gives Kendall peace of mind, and allows her to focus on her studies, rather than her finances. But it has also given her something else: inspiration.

“I am so honored to receive this scholarship, and so thankful for the Vermeesches’ generosity. It has inspired me to give back to other future Spartan nurses as soon as I am able.”

LEARN MORE about making a gift to the College of Nursing by contacting Director of Development Eric Sturdy, Jr. at or by calling (517) 432-5033.

Author: Devon Barrett, '11