Alumna starts scholarship to support nursing students

Grace Merritt

2 min read

Wendy Garvin Mayo ’10 MS knows how stressful it is to be a nurse, particularly during a pandemic.

That’s one of the reasons she recently decided to support UConn nursing students by setting up an annual scholarship to help them cover their educational expenses. For the next three years, she will provide a scholarship award for a senior to help pay for books or other education-related expenses.

“It’s really to say ‘thank you’ and to support them despite what’s going on in their lives,” Mayo says.

Mayo has been a nurse since 2004, but her job has evolved over the years. She is now a full-time clinical scientist for Johnson & Johnson, where she conducts cancer research. She works on a team looking into a monoclonal antibody to treat multiple myeloma, a blood cancer.

But she admits that she still has a passion for clinical practice. Since the start of the pandemic, she felt moved to return to the frontline for a couple of days a month as an oncology nurse practitioner at Hartford Healthcare.

In addition to her work as a clinical scientist and nurse, Mayo launched a company called The Stress Blueprint as a passion project about a year ago. As part of it, she runs a wellness mentorship program. At a time when nurses are facing an unprecedented nursing shortage, stress, and burnout, Mayo wanted to provide some support and guidance.

“The Nurse Wellness Mentorship is a program I created to empower nurses to manage their stress so they can enhance their quality of life while they are caring for others,” she says.

Mayo leads sessions virtually once a week, helping nurses talk about their wellness goals, stressors, and apply the strategies they learned in the program modules.

“Ultimately the goal of the program is to help nurses be their best, do their best, and give their best,” she says. “It’s been very successful since program been up and running”

Mayo grew up in the inner city of Boston, the youngest of four children raised by a single mother. She was the first one in her family to attend college, enrolling in the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford, then earning her master’s at UConn.

Mayo lives in East Hartford, Connecticut with her husband, Claude Ewart Phillibert Mayo, and two children. In addition to balancing two jobs and running The Stress Blueprint, she is pursuing a Doctor of Nursing Practice at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut. 

For Mayo, the UConn nursing scholarship is just the start of her philanthropy journey. She is providing six scholarships to enable nursing students to enroll in her wellness mentorship program in 2022.

“Nurses are the backbone of health care,” she says. “We’re in a nursing crisis now and we need to support and equip particularly our new nurses with tools that prepare them as they enter the workforce.”

UConn School of Nursing Dean Deborah Chyun says she appreciates Mayo’s thoughtful and timely support.

“Many of our students needed extra financial support at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Chyun says. “Even now that vaccines are available, the financial need is still there, which Wendy recognized and stepped in to remedy. As an alumna of the school, she understands that our seniors have persevered through the pandemic to continue their studies and may need extra assistance to reach graduation. I am grateful Wendy thought of the School of Nursing as she began her philanthropic support of UConn.”

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