Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD) Funds Nursing Fellowship

Liliana Ascencio

School of Nursing graduate student Liliana Ascencio

After receiving her bachelor’s degree from American University in 2018, Liliana Ascencio embarked on a career in public health research and advocacy for health equity. While she loved her work, she craved interacting directly with the people in the communities she was serving and decided to pursue a nursing degree. Her preference was to remain in her hometown of San Francisco, and SF State’s School of Nursing was a natural fit. “I talked to a lot of different nurses,” says Liliana. “They spoke really highly of the nursing programs at SF State, and of the kind of caliber of nurses that were coming out of this program.” Liliana is currently finishing the first of three years of the entry level master’s program in SF State’s School of Nursing, and according to her, it is living up to her hopes.

Last year, Liliana learned that she was one of 20 graduate students to be awarded a $2,500 fellowship funded by Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD), a supplier of medical products, capabilities, and solutions. Graduate students are often ineligible for certain types of financial aid and have additional costs like parking and equipment needed for clinical internships, which makes this fellowship vitally important. The fellowship fund is the first gift of its kind made by BD to the University.

"There is an urgent need to support the next generation of our healthcare workforce, and nurses are the backbone of the system," says Sien Avalos, Director of Social Investing and VP BD Foundation. "Through this fellowship, BD is honored to help remove potential financial barriers to graduation or a student's ability to fully focus on their studies at the SF State Nursing School."

The graduate nursing program is a rigorous one and many students, including Liliana, find it challenging to work at jobs while pursuing this degree. “[The fellowship] really allows the room for you to think, ‘How can I meet my goals?’” says Liliana. “‘How can I expand what nursing could really look like for me?’ and, ‘How can I focus on gaining mentorship, gaining support, supporting my community and also just opening more doors for myself?’”

Liliana’s focus on community is in keeping with the ethos of the School of Nursing, which has a highly diverse student body and is committed to placing students in community clinics as well as hospitals. “We work in the community from the very first semester the students come in, to their very last semester,” says Director of the School of Nursing Elaine Musselman. “They're in the Tenderloin, in Bayview Hunters Point, they're in Chinatown, really working in areas where the residents of San Francisco are underserved in health care.” Elaine’s goal is to eventually expand the nursing department to include a Doctor of Nursing program which will be focused on addressing local health inequities.

The community-oriented nature of the School of Nursing is part of what drew Liliana to it and why she is so passionate about the work she is doing and her studies. She grew up in San Francisco, is a first-generation Latina, and speaks Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, French, and Turkish. She often feels a kinship and solidarity with her local patients and believes that this helps them to be more open to her as a healthcare provider. Long term, her goal is to use her master’s degree to transform larger health systems to make them more equitable, through combining her skill sets in clinical experience and evaluation.

For now, Liliana is extremely grateful to be in the program and to BD for funding her fellowship, “[BD] is not just investing in a student paying tuition or buying books, which is worthwhile in itself, but [they] are investing in future leadership and in people who are passionate about changing our structures, patient care, and being leaders in the field… I hope that through these experiences I can become a leader in the healthcare field, a fierce advocate for my future patients, and an excellent clinician.”

For more information about donating to the College of Health & Social Sciences, contact:

Dafna Kapshud ( She/Her/Hers )
Director of Development
College of Health & Social Sciences
(415) 338-7112