Donor Story

Nurturing New Nurses

UNM Alumna Endows Fund in Husband’s Memory to Support Nursing Students Statewide

By Anna Adams

Posted August 15, 2017

New Mexico is such an interesting place because it is much more rural than urban,” said UNM alumna Brenda Izzi. “People deserve quality care whether they’re in Albuquerque, over in Clovis, down in Ruidoso or anywhere in between.”

Stephen and Brenda Izzi
Photo: Courtesy UNM College of Nursing

In memory of her husband, Stephen, who passed away last year, Izzi endowed the Brenda and Stephen Izzi Nursing Education Consortium Fund to support the New Mexico Nursing Education Consortium (NMNEC). NMNEC allows community colleges to partner with the UNM College of Nursing to provide Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees to students all over the state.

“This program is redefining nursing education across New Mexico,” said Izzi. “Nursing is an amazing field to work in, and the NMNEC program addresses the need to provide BSN educated nurses in both rural and urban communities.”

Between her junior and senior year at Highland High School in Albuquerque, Izzi began the LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) program at the Career Enrichment Center, which offers trade-level coursework for high school students. After graduating from Highland in 1986, she started working as an LPN at UNM Hospital.

“Nursing just fit me,” said Izzi. “Even as a little girl, I bandaged everyone. I took temperatures. Blood did not bother me, and I even had one of those Fisher-Price doctor’s kits.”

Izzi now works as the chief administrative officer at the Department of Radiology at UCLA and lives in Los Angeles, where she first met Stephen. He worked for GE Medical Systems as an electrical engineer, servicing patient monitors.

“He was very patient-focused,” said Izzi. “He was so good at his job that his company sent him around the country outside his typical service area. He really cared about getting accurate readings for patients,” said Izzi.

Izzi received her associate’s degree in nursing at CNM (then Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute). She then completed her BS degree in basic sciences with a focus on economics and community health from UNM, and later earned her executive MBA degree from UNM in 2002. Because she accepted her position at UCLA in 2001, she needed to fly back and forth between Albuquerque and Los Angeles to finish her MBA.

“Working and going to school takes a lot of time,” said Izzi. “No matter how much time it takes, if your heart is in it, you should keep going.”

Izzi is excited that there is momentum to create a cohesive education program across the state for nurses to get their bachelor’s degrees.

“It’s the path I wanted to take, but not the path I ended up taking,” said Izzi. “Nurses who want to get more education shouldn’t feel like they need to do it within a certain time frame for it to be meaningful. They have options, and they’ll be better for it, no matter how much time it takes.”

For more great stories like this, please click here.