Retired nurse follows parents’ example, creates scholarship

Susan Spencer Briney and the late William Spencer

Susan Spencer Briney and the late William Spencer

Susan Spencer Briney never realized what an impact her parents had on students when they started a scholarship endowment at the Youngstown State University Foundation – not until the thank you letters came pouring in.

Now she’s following their example by creating her own scholarship fund.

Briney, who was forced to retire early from nursing after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, has given $100,000 to the YSU Foundation to fund the Susan Spencer Briney Scholarship for students pursuing undergraduate degrees in nursing.

“I’m a better nurse than I am anything else – I’ve always felt like that’s what I was put on this earth to do, and I miss it every day,” she said. “It makes me happy to realize that now I’m in a position to cultivate another generation of nurses.”

Briney was unaware until recently that the scholarship endowment her parents established in 2005, the William and Margaret Spencer Scholarship, had grown to nearly $1 million. When her mother and father died within a month of each other early this year, she became the point of contact for the scholarships.

“I’ve received 35 thank you notes from students over the past few months,” she said. “It’s been amazing to see what an influence my parents’ generosity is having, even now.”

William Spencer owned a successful Youngstown life insurance and financial planning business. He was appointed to the YSU Foundation Board of Trustees in 1968, served for 45 years, and in 2013 was named Trustee Emeriti in recognition of his exemplary service.

Briney grew up in Boardman, attended the Choffin Career Center to become an LPN and earned her RN from Sharon Regional Hospital School of Nursing. She worked 30 years in the profession, mostly in geriatric and hospice nursing, retiring in 2011.

She established the following descriptive criteria for her nursing scholarship with the hope of attracting students who are as passionate about nursing as she is:

“Students need to cultivate a true passion for their chosen field. Nursing is not a 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. ‘job’, it is a career, one that not only involves healing the sick, but caring for and about them, nurturing them, empathizing with them, leading them either back to optimal health, or easing their fears during the end of their lives. A nurse must possess a gentle heart, but also a fierce determination to be an advocate for their charges, demonstrate exceptional people skills, and exemplify a professional level of communication; involving speaking, writing and most importantly, listening.”

Briney lives in Fremont, Ohio, with husband James, a mother of two adult children and seven grandchildren. She is leading a community effort to establish a Hospice House in Fremont.

For more information about the Susan Spencer Briney Scholarship or how to establish a YSU scholarship endowment, contact the YSU Foundation, 330-941-3211.