Nursing student receives prestigious health equity scholarship from Johnson & Johnson

Portrait of Morgan Desmond
Morgan Desmond (Nursing, ’24) is a recipient of the 2023 Johnson & Johnson Our Race to Health Equity Diversity Nursing Scholarship

One University of New England student is benefitting from an initiative by one of the nation’s largest pharmaceutical companies that seeks to increase and support diversity and inclusion in the health care workforce.

Morgan Desmond (Nursing, ’24) is a recipient of the 2023 Johnson & Johnson Our Race to Health Equity Diversity Nursing Scholarship. Awarded through the Foundation of the National Student Nurses’ Association (FNSA), the $5,000 scholarship will support Desmond through her senior year as she completes her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from UNE.

The scholarship was created in 2020 as part of Johnson & Johnson’s Our Race to Health Equity initiative, and its first cohort of awardees was selected in 2021. The initiative and scholarship aim to support a world where health equity is a pillar of society and the health care system. It is one part of a multi-pronged strategy to ensure access to high-quality and culturally competent health care for all.

A New Hampshire native, Desmond became interested in cultural competencies in health care following a semester abroad at UNE’s campus in Tangier, Morocco. For her, becoming involved with the Johnson & Johnson initiative is a symbol that health care is moving toward better, more equitable care for all.

“We’re often taught that we should look at people the same in the health care setting, but I actually disagree with that,” she reflected. “We should treat everybody as individuals based on their needs. Someone from the U.S. likely won’t need the same kind of care as somebody from Africa. And it’s important to recognize that we also need more providers who look like the communities we serve.”

For Desmond, the initiative is personal. Growing up in a multicultural environment, Desmond said she is glad to see barriers of bias being broken down between both patients and providers.

“We’re finally shifting into this new age of patient care where everybody can feel safe and heard — and not just racially, but with gender as well,” she said. “We're in an era where we’re advocating not just on behalf of our patients, but for ourselves as providers.”

In recognition of her award, Desmond attended the 71st annual National Student Nurses’ Association Convention Opening Session and Awards Ceremony on April 12 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Morgan Desmond at the NSNA conference

Desmond with J&J representative Michelle Morgan