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Tressa Nese and Helen Diskevich
Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence

CGNE Gero Scholars Program

Program Description

The vision of the Tressa Nese and Helen Diskevich Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence (CGNE) at Penn State Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing is that every older adult receives the highest quality evidence-based care that respects their individual goals and preferences. This is accomplished through innovative education, rigorous scientific research, community and clinical partnerships, and various efforts to translate best practice evidence into the continuum of care for older adults. Critical to this mission is cultivating undergraduate and graduate student interest in aging science and gerontological nursing research.  

Program Objectives 

  1. To identify students in the Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing who demonstrate academic excellence, commitment to the CGNE’s mission and vision, and interest in pursuing a PhD and career in nursing science. 
  2. To provide scholarship support, educational opportunities, mentoring, and professional development support to CGNE Scholars in support of their educational and professional goals. 

Program Competencies 

  1. Develop knowledge of aging and nursing science to inform geriatrics and gerontology. 
  2. Develop knowledge of methods commonly used in nursing research and best practices for implementation. 
  3. Expand age-friendly attitudes, behaviors, and best practice approaches relevant to nursing science and practice. 
  4. Identify and synthesize scientific evidence that addresses a salient issue/problem in aging or gerontological nursing. 
  5. Develop skills to communicate knowledge about an aging or gerontological nursing topic, tailored to a specific audience (e.g., students, community, research). 

Program Components  

  • Scholarship support to students who identify an interest in gerontological nursing or aging science and demonstrate academic excellence. 
  • Opportunities to develop knowledge of aging and gerontological nursing research through educational events/seminars and direct engagement with CGNE-affiliated faculty and students. 
  • Opportunities for professional development in skills necessary to communicate gerontological nursing knowledge. 
  • Networking with scholars engaged in aging and gerontological nursing research, policy, and practice (in-person and virtual). 
  • Support to attend a gerontology-focused scientific conference. 
  • Engagement with a cohort of students with shared interests. 
  • Mentorship by nursing faculty with expertise in aging and gerontological nursing sciences. 

Scholarship Guidelines 

Scholarships are intended to support students in their pursuit of aging or gerontological nursing research and practice expertise (including potential future enrollment in Penn State’s PhD program in Nursing). A cohort of Gero Scholars are selected each year (number contingent on funding availability) and provided with scholarship support in the amount of $2,000 ($1,000 per semester). In addition, each Scholar may apply for a Conference Travel Scholarship of up to $500 to attend a scientific conference (in person or virtual) relevant to the CGNE Mission during the year in which they participate in the program. 

Program Requirements 

The Gero Scholars program requires engagement in the following (virtual options available for non-UP students except where indicated): 

  • In-person attendance at two events at University Park:
    • Program Kickoff Meeting: 4th or 5th Friday of the semester, 12pm-3pm 
    • CGNE Spring Brunch: Sunday in April, date to be finalized during Fall semester 
    • Note: Travel costs for non-UP students will be reimbursed by CGNE. 
  • Gero Scholar Cohort meetings twice per semester  
  • CGNE seminars/educational events three times per semester 
  • Participation in at least one CGNE outreach event (e.g., assisting with health screenings in the community) during the academic year 
  • Participation in at least one CGNE Gero Research Interest Group meeting per semester 
  • Development and delivery of an evidence-based presentation on an aging or gerontological nursing topic 
  • Completion of at least 10 hours of research activities (e.g., developing evidence-based presentation, attending research team meetings, shadowing study processes) per semester with a CGNE-affiliated faculty mentor 
  • Completion of the Gero Scholars Program pre- and post-program evaluations  
  • Serve as champions for the CGNE and gerontological nursing within student and professional groups 

Eligibility Requirements 

  • Current enrollment in the Nese College of Nursing’s BSN, MSN, or graduate certificate program (full or part-time) 
  • All campus locations are eligible 
  • BSN students must be entering their junior or senior year 
  • Demonstrated interest in aging or gerontological nursing science, including the possibility of pursuing a research doctorate (PhD in Nursing) 
  • Identification of 3-5 areas of research or practice interest that are relevant to the goals of the CGNE – see the following for more information: 
  • CGNE website 
  • CGNE faculty research expertise areas 

How to Apply

  • Deadline: Friday before Fall semester classes begin (due by end of day) 
  • Only applications submitted by the deadline will be considered 
  • Please note that you will be asked to upload your resume or CV with your online application 

Selection criteria: 

  • Alignment of interests with the CGNE Mission and Vision as well as CGNE-affiliated faculty expertise 
  • Professional commitment to gerontology 
  • Demonstrated academic excellence 
  • In addition, preference will be given based on the following: 
  • No previous support received from the Gero Scholars Program Scholarship 
  • Plan to graduate in the next 12 months 

If you have any questions, please contact Andrea Sillner, assistant professor and CGNE lead for the Gero Scholars Program, at


Nese College of Nursing named a National League for Nursing Center of Excellence