This week, nursing leaders and staff gathered to surprise Kristen Coyne and Debora Pontes with the news that they are this year’s recipients of the Neskey Educational Opportunity Fund Scholarship.

Pontes (second from left) with (from left) Gilberto Gamba, Mary Sullivan, Ashley O’Brien and Sasha DuBois

“When I saw the nursing team walk through the doors of my office, I could never have imagined that they were here for me,” said Pontes, a medical assistant in the 850 Multi-Specialty Clinic. “When my manager asked me to step out to receive the honor of the Neskey Scholarship award, I was speechless, and I still am.”

Coyne, a patient care assistant (PCA) on Braunwald Tower 5A Oncology, was also very grateful. “I am so honored and humbled to receive this award to further my education and grow my career within Mass General Brigham,” she said.

She thanked her family, her nursing and PCA colleagues and nursing director, Lauren Willard, MS, RN, noting that she was especially grateful to her aunt Clare Coyne, RN, an oncology nurse on Braunwald Tower 4A.

“She has continually been my biggest cheerleader, rock and role model as I navigate this path to a nursing career,” said Coyne. “Without her constant flow of support and words of encouragement, none of this would be possible.”

The scholarship was established in 2018 by the Neskey family after Sharon Neskey received extraordinary care from a patient care associate at the Brigham. Each year, these scholarships support staff who work as patient care associates and similar roles in attending the University of Massachusetts Boston to pursue a degree in nursing.

Kristen Coyne (center) with Michaelle Renard (left) and Lauren Willard (right)

Pontes noted that the scholarship will help her to reach her goals more quickly. “I have been a part-time student for so long as fiscal responsibilities have made it hard for me to take more classes, but this scholarship will allow me to accelerate and achieve my goal much faster,” Pontes said.

Both recipients’ managers affirmed the outstanding care they provide. “Debora works to help the department run smoothly for the patients she cares for so much and the teammates she supports,” said Mary Sullivan, practice manager. “She will be a competent, quality nurse one day.”

Willard said she was delighted to share the news with Coyne. “Kristen has the intelligence, determination and kindness needed to become an excellent nurse,” she said.