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Making an Impact Today and Tomorrow

By: Amanda Bernocco

Doris Bierhanzl

Doris Bierhanzl

Doris Bierhanzl was drawn to St. Joseph's University to continue her education as a health administrator for one clear reason: its convenience.

The 1985 St. Joseph's Long Island graduate was itching to advance her profession while working as a nurse at Kings Park's St. Johnland Nursing Center. Even with 20 years of experience as a registered nurse under her belt, Doris still needed to obtain a degree if she wanted to move up the ladder and become the director of the facility.

It was at that time that Doris discovered St. Joseph's Long Island's health administration department. The program was perfect — she could take courses at night and on weekends, class sizes were small, and the professors were current in the field.

"It was a busy time, but St. Joseph's and the classes fit in very well with my schedule," says Doris, noting she was also raising three teenagers at the time.

Once she earned and collected her bachelor's degree in health administration, she was promoted to nursing director at St. Johnland.

Doris is so grateful for the opportunity St. Joseph's afforded her that she decided to establish a scholarship for a non-traditional or adult student — much like she was — seeking a degree to advance their career.

"I felt fortunate to have attended St. Joseph's and I wanted to help someone else who was in my same situation," Doris says. "That's why I started the scholarship. Because I was appreciative of the education I received."

Ms. Bierhanzl's donation was a blended gift — a combination of an estate and a current gift.

To set up a blended gift, a donor can plan an endowed scholarship through his or her estate. When the scholarship agreement is executed, the donor may agree to make an annual donation in the amount of the interest that the endowed fund generates, explains Planned Giving Officer Susan Loucks.

This gives the donor the chance to start his or her estate scholarship during his or her lifetime, and have the opportunity to see the impact of his or her estate gift.

Doris Bierhanzl with her cat

Doris Bierhanzl and her cat, Meetsy

"A blended gift is wonderful because it allows a donor to plan an endowed gift in their estate and experience the joy of seeing that gift make a positive difference in the lives of our students," Susan continues, explaining that blended gifts work especially well with endowed scholarship donations.

Doris had regularly given smaller donations to St. Joseph's until last year, when Susan helped her establish a blended gift. The alumna said setting up her blended gift was a positive experience and she appreciates the opportunity to give back to St. Joseph's.

"We who were fortunate enough to get our education at St. Joseph's should make it easier for someone else to get their education there," Doris says. "It's such a wonderful school. I was able to manage the tuition, but if someone is returning and there's a struggle for them, I'd like to help make it easier for them."

She hopes other alumni choose to follow in her footsteps.

"It's such a great way to give back to the school," says Doris. "I would encourage others to establish scholarships or have a legacy in their will."

Learn more about ways you can support St. Joseph's students today and into the future. Contact Susan Loucks at or 718.940.5564.