The enduring inspiration of education

June 26, 2024

Author: Zaynah Qutubuddin

Two new scholarships honor one family's commitment to healthcare providers

Shirley and Steve Garrett
Shirley and Steve Garrett established scholarships at the VCU schools of Pharmacy and Nursing to help recruit the best and brightest students while honoring Steve's parents, who met as students on the MCV Campus. (Courtesy photo)

Steve Garrett thinks a lot about the ripple effect that seemingly small choices can have on someone’s life, including his own.

For him, the most pivotal choice involved two people deciding to pursue callings to careers in health through education on the MCV Campus.

“Mom and Dad met at MCV,” Garrett said of his late parents, Roy and Eleanor Garrett. “Those schools are essential to my very existence. She was in the MCV School of Nursing, and he was a year ahead of her at the MCV School of Pharmacy.”

Roy and Eleanor graduated in 1959 and 1960, respectively. The couple eventually moved to Eleanor’s hometown of Lynchburg, Va., where they advanced in their respective careers.

Roy enjoyed the work of being a pharmacist. During his 41-year career, he worked in local pharmacies and at Lynchburg General Hospital. He enjoyed interacting with people and helping to understand their needs. In retirement, he volunteered at the health department in Lynchburg before a stroke caused him to fully retire. Eleanor was inspiring in her pursuit of continued education and professional achievement. 

“Education was huge for her, and she took her calling as a nurse very seriously,” Garrett said. “She never stopped wanting to train future nurses.”

College costs a lot now and I wanted to help people who need it to have a chance to make a better life for themselves like my parents did.

Steve Garrett

Eleanor earned a master’s degree in nursing from the University of Virginia and returned to MCV for her Ph.D. at the School of Nursing. As her career moved from hospital to classroom, she also earned a master’s degree in education. Her time as nursing faculty began with teaching a single course and evolved into serving as director of the Virginia Baptist Hospital School of nursing. She also held several local and state leadership roles with the Virginia Nurses Association and the National League for Nursing.

Garrett’s parents were a lifelong inspiration for his own journey, and he and his family wanted to find a way to recognize how important Roy and Eleanor were as role models. To honor their memory, he and his wife, Shirley, established scholarships named in honor of his parents at both the VCU School of Nursing and VCU School of Pharmacy.

“College costs a lot now,” Garrett said, “and I wanted to help people who need it to have a chance to make a better life for themselves like my parents did.”

They hope the Roy L. Garrett Memorial Scholarship in Pharmacy and the Eleanor H. Garrett Memorial Scholarship in Nursing will help increase the number of qualified nurses and pharmacists for Virginia and the region, and their son also has a very personal reason.

“I want people to remember my parents,” Garrett said. “I want people to know they can make a difference in their community the way my parents did.”

If you would like to support scholarships at the VCU School of Nursing, contact Pam Lowe, senior director of development, at 804-827-0020 or