Thank You

The Willard E. Peterson and Bettie Jo Peterson Endowed Program Fund in Support of the Veterans Access Program in the School of Nursing



In 1945, in the wake of World War II, Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina – now UNCG – began offering women veterans the chance to earn baccalaureate degrees in nursing. Seventy-three years later, UNCG still supports the brave men and women of our armed forces. Recognized nationally as a Military Friendly School by Victory Media, G.I. Jobs Monthly and Military Advanced Education & Transition, UNCG provides programs and services to help veterans successfully navigate the transition from military to civilian student life.

One of the University’s most successful programs is the Veterans Access Program (VAP) in the School of Nursing. Established in 2015 and partially funded through a Health Resources and Services Administration grant, the program helps veterans “from boots to books” by providing medically trained servicemen and servicewomen specialized support to achieve bachelor’s or advanced degrees in nursing. In addition to offering academic credit for prior military medical experience, VAP provides counseling, academic skills, transition-focused coursework and assistance with necessary licensure exams, job applications and interview skills to every veteran-student enrolled in the program.

This total support program would not be possible without the dedication of faculty, staff and donors. Donor Susan Safran ’77 has been involved since the very beginning:

“I remember Dr. Letvak’s presentation at the board meeting,” says the current Board of Trustees member and Chair of the Nominating Committee. “I knew right then this was something our University needed to do – and something I needed to do.”

Safran and her husband, Perry, established the Willard E. Peterson and Bettie Jo Peterson Endowed Program Fund in honor and memory of her stepfather and mother. Willard Peterson was a U.S. Navy veteran who served in WWII and later found great success in construction and entrepreneurship, while Bettie Peterson was a homemaker and longtime nurse. The fund provides VAP students financial support so they can focus on academics without the stress of wondering how they will afford their education.

“Susan provides direct support for our students,” says Dr. Susan Letvak, director of VAP. “While military benefits cover tuition and books, incidentals such as uniform and equipment costs, school fees and examination costs can quickly overwhelm them. Her generosity has been instrumental to helping these talented men and women succeed. To date, more than 100 military veteran students have benefited from her kindness.”

As a nursing professional and successful health care entrepreneur, Safran knew those costs well.

“We’re delighted to provide opportunities for the next generation of nurses, and I’m sure my parents – extraordinary people with deep respect for veterans – would be thrilled to assist them in this way.”

As more and more veterans transition from military medical service to civilian nursing practice, they do so knowing donors such as Susan Safran believe in their ability to succeed. With grateful hearts, the Spartan family are all too happy to serve those who served our nation.


Written by Michelle Danner-Groves, Donor Relations

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Kristine Davidson

Kristine Davidson

Associate Vice Chancellor
336.334.5679
kjdavidson@uncg.edu