Delta State University Foundation



Rn4students Education With A Twist Scholarship

Rn4students Education With A Twist Scholarship


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Growing up with a doctor for a daddy, Valencia Payne was surrounded by medicine and the healing and care his office provided in Greenville, Miss. The family practitioner would come home and teach her and her younger brother medical terminology. The little girl even had a toy medical bag. That early interest in medicine grew as she did, ultimately leading her to Delta State University, where Payne earned a BSN in 2008. Her career has encompassed a wide range of responsibilities and opportunities in medicine: nurse, inventor, entrepreneur. Payne's repeated successes along the way also resulted in Delta State's Robert E. Smith School of Nursing naming her its 2017 Outstanding Alumnus.

Now Payne is helping some of today's School of Nursing students find their own way with a scholarship. The $2,000 scholarship ($1,000 per semester) will be awarded to an African-American or Latino-American nursing student beginning in fall 2019.

"My parents always taught us: 'Since you've been blessed, you always give back to others.' My mom instilled that in us," said Payne. "I see the need for diversity in my career. We're all family on this planet. We need more African-American nurses and more Latino nurses. That persuaded me to start a scholarship."

Dr. Vicki Bingham, dean of the nursing school, appreciates Payne's mindfulness and generosity. "This scholarship will alleviate some of the financial burden that a student can have in obtaining an education," she said. "As more nurses will be needed to provide healthcare services for different populations, a scholarship such as this one could help students make that choice to become a nurse."

Personal and Professional Motivations

The reasons Payne came to be a medical professional and fund a nursing scholarship are both personal and professional, as the above anecdote about her father suggests. She first graduated from Jackson State University with a biology degree in 2000 and had plans to accept a job in New York at a genetics lab with Cornell University. But 9/11 put a halt to that. Instead, she worked at her father's clinic for eight years.

In 2006, she enrolled in Delta State's nursing school. In a way, it was familiar territory: Payne had been "indoctrinated" by Delta State at a young age when she was on campus for 4-H activities.

"I actually stayed on the campus when I was in sixth grade," she said. "Later, I learned about the nursing program and heard great things about it."

Payne joined the Navy as a nurse upon graduation and was stationed at the Walter Reed National Naval Military Medical Center from 2008 to 2012. She then spent a year at Johns Hopkins Medicine at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C. as a critical care post-anesthesia care unit staff nurse/EpicCare electronic health record implementation specialist and then did contract work as a nurse. Payne also worked in health informatics as it relates to nursing and nursing case management. Payne taught, too, at Chamberlain University College of Nursing, authoring a textbook for the course.

"That's what inspired me to start my company, rn4students Education with a Twist," she said. "I wrote my first nursing textbook and then developed an app called rn4students."

Payne also gravitated to healthcare because of her mother's diagnosis of cancer in 2003. "I had to help out one of the nurses there with her spinal tap," Payne recalled. "I had to help undress her and hold her in place for the spinal tap. It was an aggressive cancer and she didn't last long at all."

Earlier this year, Payne moved to Houston, Texas, where she added technology development to her resume. Payne dove into developing electronic health records systems through her trademarked SHIELD—Strategic Health Informatics Electronic Link Division—and Artificial Nano Technology Intelligence.

"At a conference in Jerusalem, Israel, I introduced the DiaGen-NanoBot—short for the diabetic gene. What it will do is cure type 2 diabetes," Payne said. "I'm in the process of having it fabricated."

Payne, who suffers from the disease herself, noted the bot will be implanted in the body and will help make insulin while keeping blood sugar under control.

"My brother and I designed it and it's being copyrighted and trademarked," she said. "I'm hoping to have it done by December 2019. I'm working feverishly to get that done. In taking care of patients over the years, I've seen the ugliness and nastiness of the chronic disease—limbs being amputated, wounds that won't heal—400 million people around the world have it."

Do unto Others

Giving back to patients is as natural for Payne as giving back to Delta State. Recalling her time at the School of Nursing, Payne valued her rotations with surgery, maternity, psychology, and others.

"I liked working with patients," she said. "I was good at it" in part because "I had excellent teachers: Debbie Allen [MSN '77], who knew my dad; Dr. Bingham [BSN '88], at the time one of our professors, who taught us medical surgery; Dr. Dorothy Seals—I love her to death—who taught us psych."

To show appreciation seemed the right thing to do to Payne.

Dr. Bingham hopes other DSU graduates will follow the same path of giving back.

"I encourage other alumni, not just nursing, to do as Valencia has done by 'paying it forward' to help students reach their career goal and build the nursing profession," Dr. Bingham said. "Each of us had someone to encourage and support us along our education journey. Scholarship funds are an excellent way to help an individual further their education, make the nursing profession stronger, and indirectly care for people with healthcare needs."

rn4students Education with a Twist Scholarship

  • $2,000 scholarship: $1,000 in the fall and $1,000 in the spring
  • Awarded to an African-American or Latino-American nursing enrolled at Delta State's School of Nursing
  • Recipient must maintain a 3.0 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) while enrolled full time
  • Recipient must be in good standing with the university
  • Recipient shall demonstrate financial need

For more information about rn4students Education with a Twist Scholarship, or about establishing annual or endowed scholarships, contact Jeffrey Farris, director of development, at 662-846-4794 or

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