Memory of Moneer Damra to live on through new nursing scholarship

The Student Nurse Association held a trivia night last Friday in which all funds raised went towards the Moneer Damra Memorial Nursing Scholarship.4

 

SNA President Lindsey James said the trivia night, which is a part of their annual social event, usually generates money that is used within their association, but this year they decided to donate the money gathered from the trivia night towards the scholarship fund.

 

“We were still planning on doing the trivia night, just virtually, and then when the events with Moneer took place, we [said] okay we need to do more,” James said. “We thought that the trivia night would be a way to raise funds — first of all, for the scholarship and also kind of a way for nursing students to get together and feel some sort of comradery with the whole situation.”

 

Dean of the School of Nursing Laura Bernaix said the idea of a scholarship, named after Damra began to circulate within SON faculty, ROTC members and faculty of SIUE at large.

 

“We got a lot of people coming forward interested in setting something up,” Bernaix said. “They all asked how we can honor his name, honor what he stood for

and the suggestion was creating something such as this. He would really have found this to be a real tribute to him and what he stood for. We’re excited to do this.”

 

The scholarship will be awarded to a nursing student who demonstrates the passion and dedication which Damra’s friends said he embodied on a daily basis.

 

“Moneer was always so dedicated to everything he did — and not just school or ROTC, but he was always working on nursing or army or something,” junior nursing student McKenzie Card, of Salem, Illinois, said. “In the mornings I would get [to the library] around 7 a.m. and get us a room, [and] he would’ve been up since 4 a.m. [and] then he would come straight to school. He would spend the next eight or so hours with me on campus doing school work, army work or any of his other class work.” 

 

Before coming to SIUE, Card said Damra lost a significant amount of weight.

 

His weight loss journey turned into a passion that he showed through his lifestyle with food, working out and taking care of himself.

 

“He was vegan, so he always had healthy meals with him,” Card said. “We’d talk about it sometimes and he actually enjoyed it, which is hard for me to comprehend ... but he absolutely loved it. He loved going to the gym and working out. He was so happy with how far he had

come.”

 

Senior criminal justice major and ROTC cadet Keith Elden, of Geneseo, Illinois, said during Zero Week, a time when ROTC seniors bring in the juniors to help them focus on the upcoming year, Damra’s upbeat spirit could be seen through the constant smile on his face.

 

“Moneer was known as that guy with a smile and had the best attitude,” Elden said. “One of the tasks [during Zero Week] is grabbing these really heavy logs and [pushing] these two ginormous [and] overly sized tires a ridiculous distance. No matter how much that log weighed, Damra kept smiling.”

 

James said originally, the money gathered from the trivia night was to go to Damra’s family, but the family wanted it to go elsewhere.

 

“What better way to memorialize him for years to come so that we don’t forget about him and the kind of person he was, [than] to create an annual scholarship?” James said. “We needed something to channel our feelings into that was positive, so raising funds for the scholarship in his name was the best way to help.”

 

Bernaix said the scholarship is still being established as of now, but they are hoping to make it into an endowed scholarship for years to come.

 

“Then we can award a scholarship in his name every year, but we are not at the point yet,” Bernaix said. “We’re very grateful the Student [Nurse] Association, ROTC and the SIUE community have all come together to increase those funds and really put the purpose of that scholarship to use.”

 

For more information about how to donate to the scholarship fund, visit the scholarship website

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