Paying it forward

By Jill Jansen

After spending more than three years as a medic in the U.S. Army, Brett Kotowski knew his decision to pursue a career in healthcare was the right one.

“I always knew I wanted to do something in the medical field,” said Brett, who earned both a BSN and MSN from IU School of Nursing. “Nursing is a career that’s always needed, and I felt like it was a good place to be if I wanted job security and to do something I enjoy.”

As a military veteran, Brett used the GI bill to pay for his bachelor’s degree, which he earned in 2016. Just one year later when he enrolled in the school’s master’s program, he set out to pay for the program himself. He worked while attending graduate school, covering nearly all his tuition and living expenses—except for his final semester. To ensure he could continue without interruption or tapping into long-term savings, Brett applied for scholarships and received an award from IU School of Nursing’s general scholarship fund.

“I was so close to finishing, and the scholarship kept me out of the red,” Brett said. Shortly after graduating with his master’s degree in 2019, Brett began donating to IU School of Nursing.

“Knowing what I was able to do with the money and how it helped me finish my degree, donating to the school is a means of returning what was offered to me,” Brett said. “It’s almost like taking care of your own—other students who want to become nurses.”

Brett said earning his master’s degree has provided additional career opportunities and the ability to work more autonomously. After becoming a nurse practitioner, he worked in internal medicine and respiratory care for two years before accepting a position in February as a wound care nurse traveling among several long-term care facilities in the Indianapolis area.

“With the master’s degree, I’m able to be more involved in the decision-making in terms of patient care,” he said.

With his previous experience at IUSON, Brett hasn’t ruled out applying for the school’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

“IU School of Nursing has really good programs” he said. “I got great experience and made a lot of connections.”