Encino Couple Donates $400,000 More For CSUN Nursing Scholarships

Group photo of CSUN nursing students at Valley Presbyterian Hospital.

CSUN nursing students at Valley Presbyterian Hospital. Photo courtesy of Nina Amirian.

Encino resident and retired aerospace engineer Dale Sipma and his wife Carol recently donated $400,000 to CSUN’s Department of Nursing to establish the Sipma Family Nursing Scholarship in the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (A-BSN) program. The couple previously donated $180,000 for nursing scholarships at CSUN.

The latest gift from the Sipmas will fund scholarships for students in the fast-paced, 15-month, A-BSN program designed for those who already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field. In addition to classroom instruction, the program emphasizes hands-on experience. CSUN A-BSN students complete clinical rotations in hospitals and other health care settings around greater Los Angeles.

To date, nearly 60 students have benefited from scholarships provided by the Sipmas.

“I like to donate locally when I can, and CSUN has turned out to be my largest charity,” Dale Sipma said. “It was very interesting to me, the idea that these students come from other walks of life and other life experiences. I thought it would be a really great thing to have them in the nursing profession.”

Rebekah Child, department chair and associate professor of nursing, said Dale Sipma joined a recent Zoom meeting with some of the A-BSN students to surprise them with their scholarships.

“One student was so overwhelmed with gratitude and emotion she couldn’t speak,” she said. “This is a such a wonderful gift that means so much to these students. This is their second bachelor’s degree. They work so hard to get into our program, then to have their journey validated by this scholarship is so moving and meaningful.”

For Danny Lopez, who will complete the A-BSN program in December, receiving a Sipma Family Nursing Scholarship means he will not deplete his savings or have to take on more loans. “I had a little bit of money saved, but I was running out,” Lopez said. “I was going to have to look at more loans or start working. The scholarship allows me to focus on my studies.”

Lopez, 29, earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 2014 but decided to pursue nursing after a car accident in 2016.

“I didn’t have any direction,” said the Alhambra resident. “After the accident and being around hospitals, I got inspired to be a nurse. The accident was the catalyst to inspire my decision.”

Lopez said that after taking his nursing exams, he hopes to work in a hospital intensive care unit, and eventually to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA).

Dale Sipma said he and his wife were already donating to CSUN’s Department of Nursing prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but he realizes the magnitude of his scholarship donation during the ongoing crisis.

“It certainly made it more important,” he said, adding that the A-BSN students are already “a great help in the COVID fight.”

Puyeh Panahi, a CSUN Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing student, in her scrubs.

Puyeh Panahi, a Sipma Family Nursing Scholarship recipient.

In fact, students in CSUN’s A-BSN program helped deliver some of the nation’s first COVID-19 vaccinations to health care workers at three Los Angeles County hospitals in January 2021. And throughout the pandemic, CSUN nursing students have worked on the front lines during their clinical rotations, including serving as symptom screeners, operating room attendants and test administrators at local hospitals and clinics.

“Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic when the need for nurses is great, this $400,000 gift from the Sipma family comes at a pivotal time,” said CSUN President Erika D. Beck. “CSUN has always been a place where careers are built, and the Sipmas’ support helps ensure that students can leverage their first baccalaureate degree and move into the nursing field quickly, where they will make a difference not only for individual patients, but also for our greater community. I hope the Sipmas will inspire others in the community to take a closer look at CSUN and invest in our programs that are making a difference.”

Child said the Sipmas’ generosity to the Department of Nursing is especially inspiring because they have no ties to CSUN, other than being residents of the San Fernando Valley. “They just want to help nurses. It has been so amazing,” she said. “We feel super fortunate.”

But Dale Sipma said he did not need to be an alumnus to feel connected. “This is where I live,” he said. “There are people that I can help here. I get to see where my money goes, who gets it and hear their success stories. I look forward to hearing about the success of the people who have received the scholarships.”

Based in the College of Health and Human Development, CSUN’s Department of Nursing is ranked No. 5 by topRNtoBSN.com on the list of top 15 “Best Nursing Schools In Los Angeles.” The A-BSN program, in particular, is housed in Tseng College for Graduate, International and Midcareer Education.

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