What would you do if you won $100,000? Courtney L. Luoma, MSN, BSN, RN, (Nursing ’21, ’12) knew her answer — invest in women’s health. Luoma, a certified nurse midwife with Midland Memorial Hospital, and her business partner invested their winnings from the 2021-2022 Midland Entrepreneurial Challenge to furnish and launch The Birth Center, which offers an alternative for women who want a childbirth option other than at a hospital or their home.


Michael D. Moon, PhD, MSN, RN, (Nursing ’87) received the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) Lifetime Achievement Award, reflecting on a career of dedicated service, accomplishments and contributions to emergency medicine. Moon is a professor, advanced practice registered nurse and certified emergency nurse at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas.


Panhandle Great 25 Nurses Committee honored Dean Michael Evans, PhD, RN, FAAN, with its 2022 Legacy Award. The award recognizes registered nurses who have made substantial contributions to nursing in the Texas Panhandle for at least 25 years.


The Gerontological Society of America awarded fellow status to Alyce S. Ashcraft, PhD, RN, professor and associate dean for research and scholarship. As the world’s oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization, the society is devoted to research, education and practice in the field of aging.

Time Away from Work — to Work

Forget the ideal of a vacation . . .coveted time away from academic responsibilities is no vacation on the beach sipping mai tais, lulled by the ocean’s rhythmic waves.

Jen Collins, PhD, RN, CNE, filled the 90 days of her sabbatical in the spring of 2022, earning her nurse educator certification and revising the curriculum for a master’s nursing course, which go hand in hand. She also helped young adults who have aged out of foster care obtain their driver’s licenses.

Collins, a School of Nursing research professor, is one of the school’s first Ketner Fellows. These are nursing faculty chosen for a development leave program funded through the generous gifts of Ken Ketner, PhD, a professor at Texas Tech University. He established an endowment in the school to cover the cost of a faculty member’s academic coursework so that they can engage in personal and professional growth, said Alyce Ashcraft, PhD, RN, CNE, professor and Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship. Ashcraft also manages the Ketner Fellows program.

“The sabbatical is open to any faculty member, but for research faculty, time to focus on research is absolutely a most precious commodity,” Ashcraft said.

During her sabbatical in the spring of 2022, Collins was able to do additional recruitment on a pilot study to help 18- to 29-year-olds, who have aged out of the foster care system or are experiencing poverty or homelessness, get their driver’s licenses. Collins enrolled six participants during the semester who wanted to acquire their driver’s licenses. The study now has 10 participants, and five are now licensed drivers.

Collins walks each participant through the application process for their permits and then personally drives them to and from driving school for practice and their driving test, and then takes the participant to the Department of Public Safety for their final driver’s license paperwork.

illustration of person on laptop sitting on hammock
A generous gift from Ken Ketner, PhD, funds sabbaticals for nursing faculty.
Having the Ketner Fellowship supported my courses and offered me the time to take a deep dive into developing my research scholarship and service areas. I was able to earn my nurse educator certification while at the same time revise the course I’m lead on, which go hand in hand.


The study stems from her research focus on mobility equity, specifically studying the impact of youth in foster care not having a driver’s license. Collins cited evidence from one of the few studies completed in the U.S. about licensure for teens in foster care that found around 3% of 16- and 17-year-old teens in foster care acquire their licenses compared to 73% of teens that age who are not in foster care.

“Access to resources is one of the most critical factors to level the playing field,” she said. “The freedom to drive is a big deal for independence and necessities of life. How do you get an apartment? How do you get on a plane? How do you get to work or school or the clinic? How do you live without that level of mobility? More importantly, these teens feel left behind their peers in terms of job opportunities and advancements.”

In previous discovery, Collins learned driving without a license is the No. 1 citation for individuals aged 14 to 29 in the local municipal juvenile court system. Many of those citations were for driving to essential places, such as work, school, and health facilities. She added that without the ability to get a job or get to a job site, often those fines go unpaid, resulting in a warrant and possibly serving time in jail.

The sabbatical also allowed Collins to focus on strengthening a partnership with court administrators in the Travis County Municipal Court. She is also working with stakeholders across Texas including the Department of Family Protective Services, which will hopefully lead to expanding the pilot study to include 15- to 18-year-old teens while they are in foster care.

“I was able to develop new and strengthen many established partnerships during my time away from the classroom, and it was such an opportunity to really move some things further along than I could have while carrying a full-time teaching load,” Collins said. “I’m truly grateful to Dr. Ketner for what his gift offers.”