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Scholarship Finalists

Winner 2022

Elana Marsh

Elana Marsh

Throughout my life, there have been many experiences that have inspired me to become the woman that I am today. However, above anything or anyone, my five children are my greatest inspiration. Undoubtedly, single parenting requires consistency, patience, and sacrifice. Every single moment of my life revolves around my children, as they are my top priority. Working twice as hard to make sure that all my children’s needs are met is certainly not an easy task. There have been moments where I let guilt, doubt, and anxiety consume me, and I had no desire to live in my true purpose. Even so, I never gave up. In 2017, I withdrew from school due to my extreme hardship in maintaining work/life balance. My children were having behavioral and learning difficulties, in which one of my sons was diagnosed with Autism. Additionally, my other children were diagnosed with ADHD. Although I had very little support, I stepped up and advocated for my children. Now, each of my children have specialized therapeutic services, learning support plans, and tutoring services. They are growing, thriving, and doing so much better in school. I did not give up on them because they deserve a quality education, regardless of their learning challenges. All things considered, I had to resign from my full-time job as a medical assistant to pursue my Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Drexel University. This was an arduous decision that I had to make; however, I know that it will prove to be beneficial in the near future. This scholarship will help with tuition, and any additional fees, books, and other expenses. Continuing my education was the best decision that I have ever made. My children watch my every move, and they depend on me for everything. So, I have no choice but to go above and beyond for them. I am also setting an example for them to do and be their best, no matter how hard life gets. Since continuing my nursing studies at Drexel University, I have joined the National Student Nurses Association and the National Black Nurses Association. I believe that joining these associations will help me to grow and thrive as a nursing student. Networking and making connections with other nursing students and faculty will prove to be beneficial to my nursing career. I am also a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Rho Upsilon Chapter. I am resilient, adaptable, and ambitious, and once I obtain my nursing degree, I choose to focus on Maternal/Fetal Health in disadvantaged communities. I want to help improve the safety and welfare of pregnant women through various preventative care measures. I hope to learn more about how I can incorporate reproductive health into my field of study, and how I can do more to advocate for women that do not have access to adequate health care. In ten years, I hope to complete my master’s degree in Nurse Midwifery. It is my dream to open a community center that serves women that do not have access to health care. With the right connections and support, I would provide family planning services, prenatal and postpartum care, nutritional services, breastfeeding support, preventative health screenings and treatment, as well as social services and counseling. I know this will require an abundance of resources and diligence, but I want to be a part of the movement that keeps my community healthy and safe. I believe that a career in nursing will be extremely rewarding, because I know I will have genuine opportunities to make a difference in the lives of many.

Finalists 2022

Victoria Bayko

Victoria Bayko

Greetings! My name is Victoria Bayko. My passion in life is to have a positive impact on this world by helping people in need. Due to this passion, I have wanted to become a Sonographer ever since I could remember. However, my life took a drastic turn at the age of 10. My mother, who has been serving in the healthcare industry for over 12 years as a Respiratory Therapist noticed I was showing symptoms of excessive thirst and urination. She rushed me to the hospital, where I was poked and prodded. After countless tests, the doctor’s diagnosed me with Type 1 Diabetes. This diagnosis changed my entire life. As a young 10-year-old girl, I was terrified of what would come next. I was taught to poke my finger for blood sugar checks and trained to give myself manual shots three times a day. My whole diet changed as I learned to count carbs. I used to think that I would never be able to do anything on my own. That my dream of becoming a Sonographer was gone. However, with the help of my excellent support system consisting of my family, friends, and doctors, I learned to confidently and independently take care of myself and my disease. Today, I don’t let Type 1 Diabetes discourage me and my future. With my support system's help, I know I will be a successful future Diagnostic Medical Sonographer. Just like all of my doctors helped me through the years of dealing with my diagnosis, I want to help other people in need. As a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, I will be able to positively impact patients around me by viewing, analyzing, and assessing their sonographic images. By becoming a Sonographer, I will be able to fulfill my goals and passion. Growing up, I was always taught to serve and give back. From a young age, I began actively serving in my local church. In late 2021, I helped my local church open a church coffee shop. I was given the opportunity to take charge of this project. It took months of planning, creating, designing, building, decorating, and arranging. In March of 2022, we opened the coffee shop and I became a coffee shop leader. As a leader, I manage a team of staff, who I train, lead, and oversee during shifts. I also check inventory, order supplies, restock, and refill perishable items. Taking on this leadership role enables me to connect with my staff and with our customers. I learned an immeasurable amount of lessons through this past year of being a leader. It taught me patience with staff and customers as sometimes things don’t work out the way you expect. Remaining calm and patient through any situation leads to peaceful and desirable solutions. Having patience throughout my program will be a virtue for a successful educational journey. Having this quality prepares me for my future in healthcare, as it is important for patients to be in a calm and stress-free environment. For this reason, I trust that staying patient, with a positive growth mindset, will lead me through my program, and advancing on as a Sonographer.

Dillon Edwards

Dillon Edwards

Since the beginning of High school, I was certain of becoming a nurse. I have always been a person to help others in their time of need. When watching the news and the internet I see stories of people dying of untreatable diseases or someone sustaining a wound that kills them while in the hospital. Seeing this inspires me to be that person who prevents death or helps cure a disease. Being able to be the reason someone gets to spend more time with a loved one is something that puts a smile on my face just thinking about it. I also want to spread knowledge on how to treat wounds on the street so accidents can lead to fewer deaths. Teaching others CPR, how to make a tourniquet, etc is something I believe that all people should know to in case of an emergency. Being able to spread the knowledge of health care can help save more lives. Being a person that can spread that knowledge gives me hope for a better and more possible future. Another inspiration is the effect of mental health. Seeing stories on mental health is another big reason why I want to pursue a career in nursing. Pain is not only physical, it’s felt mentally as well. Many people commit suicide each year due to mental disorders and traumatizing events. During that moment, a person may have felt alone or overwhelmed to the point where the thought of self-harm was the very thought in their mind. I believe that person had no one to talk to or helped them through those events. Knowing there are people like this saddens me and at the same time motivates my efforts in answering the call. Giving encouragement to the struggling patient, to continue the fight and reminding them they are not alone and letting them know people are willing to listen and help. Letting those patients have their one on ones with therapists, having group discussions with people who felt similar experiences, and giving patients medications to help them through the tough process they are going through. Mental health is undervalued and underfunded in our modern society. I want to help those patients in need by letting them talk to me about their emotions before it destroys them.

Kendall Lance

Kendall Lance

When I was little, I was very accident prone. I got to visit my doctor at TOC one to two times a year from the age of 5 to 13. Visiting my doctor wasn’t a very positive thing though; I was always hurt and needed fixing. I broke my right arm, and then I fractured it after healing. I broke my right big toe twice, and my left big toe once. I broke a few of my fingers, and sprained my wrists and ankle many times. I also got the privilege of wearing a boot and ankle brace. Nothing could stop me from having fun and being a kid. I know that kids now are the same as I was. Although I got injured quite often, I was always able to get fixed. I am grateful for the people who fixed me, and I want to be like them. I want to help people like I was helped. Growing up I wasn't sure of what I wanted to be in the medical field. It started out the same as most kids, and I wanted to be a Veterinarian. After a few years I realized that putting dogs down would not be something I would want to get paid to do. After that, I wanted to become an Orthopedic Surgeon specializing in wrists/arms. Since I hurt my arms and wrists so much, I thought it would be great if I helped accident prone people like me. I’ve always wanted to do something in the medical field, but I knew that being a surgeon would be a lot of schooling. There are so many other fields I knew I could go into where I could get out and work/help people earlier than a surgeon could get out of school. I am trying to prioritize what is best for me, and most productive/helpful towards others. Throughout all of this, I’ve always known that I’ve loved sports. I have been a swimmer for almost 11 years, and I have seen the countless injuries athletes face. Just like when I was talking about me as a kid, athletes are the same way. All the exercise and strenuous work puts athletes at a higher chance of getting hurt just like accident prone kids. When I knew that I wanted to help people with sports injuries, I realized that I wanted to be a Sports Medicine PA. Through my highschool’s medical academy internship program, I’ve seen patients in all conditions: good, bad, healing, not recovering, and exhausted. I feel the most drawn to the patients that remind me of myself, and the people I’ve always wanted to help. I know how hard it is to feel held back by injuries, especially as an athlete. I hope to be able to specialize in people with sports injuries, but I would be happy being a PA for anyone. The medical field has done so much for me, and I want to do the same for others.

Samantha Wallace

Samantha Wallace

My story with medicine started in 2021. Watching people all around me fall to COVID-19. My hero and person I have always looked up to was diagnosed with COVID and pneumonia at the same time. My grandfather at the age of 68 was in the hospital for 4 months. We were all worried, but only one person per day could visit him and you had to be a certain age. While he was in the hospital he had to be resuscitated 2 times, and was on a ventilator for most of those 4 months. We luckily had my grandparents IPhones for christmas so when my grandmother was up there we could call her and Facetime with my grandfather even though he couldn’t talk back. Even when no one could visit, the nurses would set up a zoom meeting with our family so we could all see him and talk to him. The doctors were pretty amazing, but one of my grandfather's best friends was diagnosed around the same time, and was just about two rooms down the hall from him. His life ended way sooner than it should have, which just shows me how strong of a man and fighter my grandfather is. My grandfather recovered from COVID to what we thought was back to normal, but unfortunately he is still suffering some side effects from being on the ventilator for so long. He is having surgery in just a couple weeks to open an artery in his neck which is 90% blocked, and after that surgery he has to have another on his brian to help drain the fluid off. This experience showed me even more that I wanted to go into pharmacy and help people. Help doctors find the right medicine for patients and help patients by just being a friendly face in the pharmacy. I love the idea of helping people. All throughout school I was the student who always helped the teacher which caused a little tension between me and the other students until they realized I was doing it to help not to suck up. This year I have been searching for a job in a pharmacy, that way I am able to see how well I enjoy it and decide which role in pharmacy I want to pursue. I have considered being a pharmacist in the hospital, but there you don’t get to see very many people that you're helping, mainly just doctors who come and take the medicine.

Taylor Quillman

Taylor Quillman

{This is a picture of my friend Juliana and I! I’m on the right and she’s on the left and we met this summer at an organization we were both a part of. We got to talking and we realized we both have hearing aids and they are the same kind! It was such a cool moment to talk to someone who understands what I went through and how hearing loss works. I wanted to use this as my image for this submission to demonstrate the kind of bond that people in the hearing loss community create with each other. It was also such an amazing moment because if I was still embarrassed about my hearing aids I would’ve never known she has hearing aids too. I learned there is so much power in being confident in your uniqueness because it brings people together!}

Growing up with a mom who is an amazingly smart nurse, started me off at a young age thinking about how I can help people like she does. I would play “doctor” games with my parents, make my brother pretend he was hurt so that I could fix him, and just do anything I could to be like my mom. I always loved and respected her as I grew up because she always knew how to help me when I got hurt and was very attentive to my sicknesses. I was blessed to have a nurse as my mom growing up. There was one thing though that she could never fix and I was always so confused on why I had to be the person dealing with this and it was having a hearing loss. Since birth I’ve had a moderate sensorineural hearing loss in both ears and when I was younger I just never understood why it couldn’t be fixed like every other sickness or injury seemed to be. I grew up hating and being so embarrassed of my hearing aids. I would never wear my hair up, never talk about them, and would turn so red when anyone would bring them up. My worst nightmare was if someone were to notice them and ask me in front of other people. It probably wasn’t until my Senior year of high school that I became fully confident in wearing my hearing aids and it was a long journey to get to that point. I remember one day, in my senior year, my mom and I decided to get breakfast after church. We sat at the table for what seemed like hours talking about my future, college, life, and everything in between. That day I vividly remember my mom telling me that my experience with hearing loss could be a great opportunity to go into a field that deals with the hearing impaired so I can help people like me. That was the first time I ever even considered going into an Audiologist degree. Long story short, in my second semester of my Freshman year, I changed my major to Speech Language and Hearing Sciences with a minor in Special Education at the University of Arizona with the goal of helping kids become confident and understand their journey with hearing loss. I decided to pursue a degree in the medical field, specifically in hearing sciences, so that I can help families and kids in the same way that my parents and other generous organizations helped me. I want to be able to use my personal experience to drive that passion of helping others inside of me so that, by the grace of God, I can help leave an impact on others who struggle with hearing disabilities.

Cassidy Jones


My name is Cassidy Jones, I'm 19 years old and have known I want to work in the health care field for what feels like my entire life. In reality, I have known since elementary school, so not technically my whole life but for a 19-year-old it sometimes feels that way. Although I was a child when this realization happened, my mind has never changed when it comes to the fact that I want to work in the health field. There have been multiple life experiences that have contributed to this fact, so let's get into those. Less than halfway through her pregnancy she got diagnosed with preeclampsia. Long story short, she ended up bad enough that they had to have an emergency c-section 16 weeks early. With the help of those healthcare workers, not only did my sister survive, my nephew did as well. He was as small as my hand, my mom's old wedding band fit up his arm to his shoulder. It was touch and go, he went through many long strenuous surgeries, he stayed in the NICU for five months, left with an oxygen tank that he would use for the next year of his life. Today, this same boy is 11 years old. He is as rambunctious as any other boy his age, and today has no lasting problems associated with his premature arrival. Did I want to become a Physician? Or how about a Nurse? Physician Assistant? I didn't know, but I did know I wanted to help other people the same way those doctors and nurses helped my family. I had at first settled with a PA. It met my goals in life as well as having a fantastic job satisfaction rating. Unfortunately, I had one issue. I had been diagnosed with an essential tremor. Although it's not huge, it made things difficult. With certain fine motor movements, I had issues with my hands shaking along with my voice shaking when trying to do things such as speeches. I tried finding a solution to this obstacle. What worried me most was using things such as scalpels and needles. I bought a suture practicing kit and worked on trying to do sutures well even with my hands shaking. It didn't work as hoped. I honestly was nervous about working on patients with this problem, as I didn't want to cause more harm than good. After some research, I decided sonography would be a good path. No needles or sutures are needed, and I still get to help people the way my family was helped. I also get to work with pregnant women having babies which satisfies my goal of working with kids.

Winner 2021

Paige Brown

Paige Brown

My story begins with my aunt. We have always been close, and she is like a second mother to me. I still remember the night my mom came home late and told me my aunt was sick in the hospital. She was put on a ventilator to help her breath while the doctors worked to make her better. For months, we spent just about every night and weekend at the hospital. The nurses and doctors were so calm and reassuring, especially through the multiple amputation surgeries she had to go through. Many of the nurses would sit with my little brother and me and help us with our homework while my mom would sit by my aunt’s side. They would answer our questions on why things were happening to our aunt. Then she came to live with us while she healed, and I shared my room with her. That is when I helped her most because she couldn’t walk and had very little use of her hands. I would assist her with things the doctors and nurses taught us to do. During this time is when I first knew I wanted to do something in the medical field to help others. Throughout middle and early high school, I really thought I wanted to be a doctor, but I had something in the back of my mind that kept telling me otherwise. I really wanted to be more hands on with patient care. Then I started thinking maybe nursing was my calling. During my junior year of high school, it came to me as I was deeply soul searching for my exact career path. When I would envision my future, I kept feeling happiness and seeing a smile. My smile. That was it! The moment I knew my calling was to be a dentist. I love getting my teeth cleaned and having a great smile. When I was younger, it was so exciting to go to the dentist. I wanted to get my toy out of the treasure chest and the room that I got my teeth cleaned in had so many cool toys. When I was in late grade school, I started at the orthodontist to fix my under bite before all my teeth came in. It was amazing to see how imperfect my smile was on x-rays when I thought it looked good in a mirror. Now I notice everyone's smile and wonder if it’s as nice on the inside and if not, I want to fix it to give them a great smile like I now have.
With my aunt’s trauma, I learned at an early age how much of a blessing life really is. I knew that I wanted to help others, but I needed to also have a passion for what I was helping others with. I am excited to start the next chapter of my life studying to be a dentist so I can bring smiles to everyone that will last a lifetime.

Finalists 2021

1. Brooke Bretney

In the summer of 2020, I found myself screaming in the middle of the vast saltwater summertime playground. My siblings and strangers turned and stared at me in bewilderment. Fear of the unknown overpowered me. Before I knew what was happening, my reaction to run became involuntary. My legs lunged forward in excruciating pain and became like cement blocks. I found my voice calling for my parents, but my words were lost in the crashing waves. Finally, I found dry land and I fell onto the sandy beach. The pain was agonizing, pulsating from my feet all the way to my chest. In a hazy realization, clarity came to me as to my predicament. Sobbing uncontrollably, I tried to explain to my frightened parents what had happened. Gasping, I tried to produce simple words, but during the moment, nothing came out. Instead, I choked on my sobs, the pain, and my pride. A thousand eyes were firmly planted on me.These moments felt like eternity. Feeling helpless is something I am not used to. I am a type A personality. I plan. I schedule. I create lists. The feeling of ineptitude when I couldn’t speak for myself was new to me. When I finally felt safe and out of danger I produced that word I couldn't only moments before: "jellyfish”. This is why I want to become a nurse. I want to help those who are hurt, frightened, and can’t speak for themselves.
No one likes to feel helpless. You never feel more vulnerable or exposed than when you are in pain. When I was wailing, I felt exposed and vulnerable being covered in jellyfish stings from my toes to my chest. I was so thankful for the quality of care that I received in the emergency room from the nurses. I felt an immediate bond. I felt a kinship--a place of belonging. They empathized with my pain and comforted me to be stronger. No one would have guessed a simple swim in the ocean could bring such consequences. I want to help those who may be in the same situation as I found myself that hot August day.
This experience, as well as my love for science, commitment to societal progress, and passion for my community, urged me to become a nurse. I practice these principles in both academics and my daily life. For the school year 2020/21, my teammate and I received 3rd place in the Virginia State Regional Science Fair. Together, we tested local lake water to determine which lake was closest to drinking standards and how we could improve it. I also have taken AP Environmental Science which helped further my research. We are working hard to improve this project and resubmitting it for the 2021/22 Science Fair. Additionally, my volunteerism at my church and with the Red Cross VolunTeen program has helped me grow in compassion and understanding of the diversity of others.

2. Hallie Carpenter

Hallie Carpenter

It was an icy morning in my seventh grade year of middle school, my close friend Rylie was out shopping with her mom, a very normal day for her. A driver crashed through the store window where she was shopping. She was critically injured as she was trapped under the car. This was the first person my age that I was close with that had been injured to that severity. After visiting her in the hospital, seeing the extraordinary amount of tubes connected to her, her head wrapped in bandages, I knew this was really bad. The nurses on the floor at Children Hospital were so attentive and sympathetic of what I was going through seeing my friend in the condition. This was a lot for a 13 year old to handle. This was the point I knew I wanted to become a nurse. I wanted to be there to do something for my dear friend, but felt helpless as she lay there with no movement. It was a surreal feeling that this could happen to anyone at any moment. Rylie died 28 days later, she never regained consciousness after the accident. As I researched her injuries and treatments, I hoped she didn’t suffer any pain in her final days, the doctors and nurses were there for the comfort of Rylie as well as her family.
The memory of her lying in the hospital plays over and over in my mind often. This memory has inspired me to want to become a nurse. I have finished my Certified Nursing Assistant Program (CNA) as a high school senior. I am confident that I want to be a pediatric or surgical nurse. The clarity of my career choice to provide patients and their families the best care, support and compassion I can give was prompted by the moment in time when my dear friend took her last breath.

3. Chloe Ellison

As a child, I was obsessed with the idea of being a physician. I would continuously submit myself to researching past individuals who made an impact on the medical community. Thus, my discovery of Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler, the first African American woman to become a Doctor of Medicine in the United States. As a mixed Caucasian and African American woman, myself, I was completely enthused to learn more about her. By pursuing her dreams and becoming a doctor, she challenged the prejudiced views that prevented African Americans from gaining careers in medicine. Even though she was not treated as she should have been, that never stopped her. Seeing and hearing about what she has done has moved me to try and emulate her by being purposeful and never giving up on what I am fighting for.
My mother is a type one diabetic and has been diagnosed with diabetes since she was three years of age. According to Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER), “Type 1 diabetes . . . is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin.” This is the textbook definition of my mother’s illness, and it does not cover everything that she must go through. If her sugars were to stay high for too long, she could have a stroke. It is better for her body to have low blood sugar, yet both could kill her. Also, there is the problem of types of insulin, for my mother has an allergy to Lantus, thus reducing the options she has. Then there is the problem of pricing, my family is low income, and there were times we could not afford my mother’s medication.
These are problems that 1.6 million Americans face and because of my Mother, I have decided to become a physician, specifically an endocrinologist. My hope is to one day reduce the pricing of insulin, making it more accessible to those in need. I would also attempt to make endocrinologists, dietitians, retinopathic ophthalmologists, physical therapists, and mental health therapists attainable as well. Then, if possible, I would like to conduct research on how to cure or at least make the disease more manageable for those affected worldwide. There also appears to be a lack of representation of mixed African American and Caucasian people in the medical field. To include others and be able to connect with patients on a spiritual level, my goal is to show others like myself that you can become a doctor, and nothing is stopping you from that goal. Sure, people assume that I do not work hard or that I do not have goals, yet I try my best to ensure a path that others can follow.

4. Camden Alexis Tucker

Camden Alexis Tucker

I was born a healthy baby girl but was diagnosed with sub-aortic stenosis, a heart issue, at my two year well-child checkup. I had open heart surgery just two weeks after starting kindergarten. When I was 13 years old, I was diagnosed with Supraventricular Tachycardia, an electrical issue with my heart.
Fast forward to 2020. My brother found me, sitting in a chair, staring and unresponsive. Within minutes, I turned gray and started seizing. We had no cell service so my mom ran to the front office of the cabins we were staying to call 911. She and my dad performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until the Volunteer Fire Department got there and hooked me up to their automated external defibrillator (AED) machine. There was a mechanical failure with their machine so my parents continued CPR. After the EMT’s arrived, they hooked me up to their AED machine and shocked me five times. I was given 1% chance of survival based on the length of time I received CPR, which was about an hour, going into sudden cardiac arrest and being COVID-19 positive. I was diagnosed with anoxic brain injury due to lack of oxygen and myocarditis, an infection in my heart caused by Covid-19. I have a defibrillator and pacemaker now.
I was determined to get out of bed and relearn many things that I used to take for granted. I worked hard in speech, physical and occupational therapy several times a day, getting up to walk and playing games with my nurses. I had to have two surgeries on my trachea due to narrowing either because of emergency intubation or Covid-19 effects. Once again, I had amazing nurses!
I have been fascinated with medicine since I was younger but after the dedicated nurses I had, I signed up for a Clinical Nursing Assistant program for a couple of hours a day. I enjoy asking my doctors questions in regards to my heart and test results in order to learn and educate myself. Since my cardiac arrest, I decided to study nursing in college because the nurses I had during my hospital stay made a lasting effect on me. I am bilingual in English and Spanish so I also want to use my knowledge to help bridge the gap in the medical field allowing Spanish speaking people to feel more comfortable so they can understand and take charge of their health. My ultimate goal is to be a pediatric cardiac nurse at Arkansas Children’s so that I can give back to the medical facility that literally saved my life.
It’s been a major challenge physically, mentally and emotionally but my parents helped me see the light in a trying situation. I lost some friends and acquaintances along the way because I was in the hospital or homebound for so long. I am different person, living life to its fullest despite my heart issues.

5. Jacqueline Hughes

Jacqueline Hughes

What inspired me to pursue a degree in healthcare?
My mom ultimately is what inspired me to want to be a nurse. With the blessing from management, my mom used to bring me to the hospital and set me up in an empty room for the night. I loved those nights so much. Being there at the hospital and watching all of the nurses work hard and do it with a smile on their face was inspiring as a young girl. My Mom loves her work and the opportunities it gives her more than anyone I know. I hope to be half the nurse and woman she is someday. I will be a fourth generation nurse and could not be more excited to continue on this legacy. I know it means so much to my grandma and my mom. My grandma always wants to know how my classes are going and what I am learning about and my mom is supporting me while working towards my degree. My grandma just got diagnosed with cancer last month so finishing my degree is the most important thing on my mind right now. She didn't get to see me graduate high school because of COVID. Having my grandma at my nursing school graduation would mean the world to me. She tells me that she is going to fight this cancer every day with the goal of seeing me graduate from nursing school. As long as I can remember I have been passionate about helping other people. There have been times when I have needed medical care and I can confidently say that one of the most important aspects of receiving medical care is having a good nurse. I want to be that good nurse for the patients that cross my path. There are so many nurses out there that are in it for all the wrong reasons, I just want to help people. I know I can be a light for my future patients when they are in their darkest hour. I might not be able to come up with the newest advancements and inventions in healthcare but I know I can make the biggest impact on my patients.

Winner 2020

Bethany McCollough


A single call light flickered on and off at the end of the hallway. Without a nurse in sight, the light continued its cry for help. I crept down the hallway to see if there was anything I could do, and when I opened the door, I was met by the sight of an elderly woman with tears streaming down her face. When I asked how I could assist, she softly informed me that she needed to use the restroom but could not get there by herself; she had been sitting in her own excrement for the last hour because no one would answer her call.
My team and I were working at the nursing home for clinical hours in order to receive our Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) certifications, so I ran to find a qualified nurse to help my new friend. At that moment, my perspective radically shifted: I realized that caring for someone does not have to be extravagant. Simple actions such as helping someone to use the restroom can restore their sense of humanity where it has been previously erased, and this realization set me on my path to pursue nursing as a career.
During my clinical hours, I came to see what a situation looks like when someone loses the passion they once had for their job and become stuck in their profession. When I brought the nurses to help the woman, they arrived with reprimanding comments about how the woman should have called them sooner and scathing remarks about her inability to control her bodily functions. This scene instilled in me the desire to change the way that people are treated in hospitals, care facilities, and nursing homes. We will all find ourselves in a vulnerable position at some point in our lives, whether we want to or not, and it should be a standard to treat others the way you would like to be treated.
As I finished my visit with my new friend at the nursing home, the memory that stuck in my head was the joy on her face because someone had stopped in their hectic day to notice her need. In the end, simple actions are all it takes to improve someone’s day, a resident’s community, or an entire healthcare industry; simple actions are the key to change. Because of my experiences volunteering at Swedish Medical Center and working with the elderly through clinical hours, my desire is to pursue a degree in nursing and ultimately serve as a pediatric nurse in the ICU to provide care and comfort for the most vulnerable around me.

Finalists 2020

1. Sarah Ward

Sarah Ward

My dad lost his battle with cancer, and he passed away a few days after my seventh birthday. My father dying was one of the hardest obstacles that I have ever had to face. However, I am not here to write about my dad passing away; I am here to write about how I overcame his death and turned this tragic event into a positive, life-changing experience that led me to many projects that have impacted my community.
My dad's premature passing shaped me as a person and inspired me to pursue OT for my profession. My dad would meet with an OT after his multiple brain surgeries, and doing so helped him regain some of the motor and cognitive skills that he lost. He would come home from therapy and feel like himself again, completely forgetting that he was struggling with cancer. The exercises that he performed with his therapist allowed him to re-engage in the activities that brought him contentment, such as riding his bike and reading. Seeing the positive results that OT gave my dad made me want to help people recover and feel alive again.
Ever since I saw how impacted he was by his OT, I continuously researched about it, helped co-run an organization for kids with special needs called Fantastic Friends, and shadowed at three different facilities. The big project that I have been a part of that impacted my community was the Fantastic Friends Club that I am the co-chair of. Fantastic Friends Club holds an event once a month for kids with disabilities from the ages of 7-21 that include things such as bowling, sports, or dances. Helping the disabled acts out a moral vision for society because it is noticing the dignity and love in every person, despite their difference. I have been participating in the Fantastic Friends club for years now, and I always leave the events so fulfilled. The disabled kids who participate in the activities are happier than anyone without disabilities, and they have so much love for everyone. They truly enjoy the activities we plan for them so much, even if it is for a few hours. The kids love dancing and doing crafts together, and I love getting the opportunity to do that stuff with them. I want to grow up helping those with physical or mental disabilities because every person deserves the same dignity and respect as those with no disability. I want to make an impact on someone's life and help them succeed. No one deserves to feel like an outcast or suffer through illness, so I want to be that person for them who makes a recovery easy. I love helping people any chance I can get.
Along with the Fantastic Friends Club, I also took part in a Mission Trip this past summer in West Virginia. This project affected the community of West Virginia majorly by bringing them shelter, food, and hope. My family and I helped build houses for those who had nowhere to live, we cooked meals for the poor, and we spent time with many residents of the community to build a relationship with them and get their mind off of their current situation. This project made such a big impact on the community of West Virginia and being a part of that impact is what makes me feel good. I can go to bed at night knowing those less fortunate than me are being taken care of by people who participate in projects like this. Everyone deserves the same opportunities.

2. Daniel Mishail

I rocked the brace-face look for 7 years. I started with expanders, had multiple extractions, and had every combination of rubber band color available a few times over. Alongside playing the piano and reading Harry Potter, I used to joke (with heavy sarcasm) that my favorite extracurricular activity was sitting endlessly in the dental chair. The tightening of my expander was a pain and pressure that is, to this day, indescribable. By year 5, I️ would describe heaven as a place where braces wires don’t poke into your mouth. I️f you would have told me in those endless years of untold pain that I️ would one day want to be a dentist, or any dental professional, I️ would laugh and question your sanity.
When the time came for me to apply to college, I found it exceedingly difficult to find the proper support system and information required to develop a successful application. Shortly after I matriculated into UCLA, I started Los Angeles Scholars 4 Change, a UCLA-based cohort of students who help underserved high school students apply to colleges, scholarships and internships. Needless to say, I met a diverse number of high school students; one in particular stood out in my mind. The day I met Oscar, his mother was undergoing mitral valve replacement surgery secondary to bacterial endocarditis which had damaged her heart tissue. I researched that bacterial endocarditis originates in the oral cavity and can spread without proper dental care and routine visits. I was shocked that a simple dental examination and cleaning could have such a significant impact on a person’s overall health; subsequent searches brought to light cases of advanced oral cancer and periodontal disease that may have been preventable or better controlled with proper dental care. The more I worked with students, the greater exposure I had to medically underserved communities with limited access to such simple preventative healthcare, and I decided that I wanted to be part of the solution.
To learn more about preventative dentistry, I started shadowing Dr. Payam Barzivand in his clinic in Van Nuys, CA, an area with a large medically underserved population in the heart of the San Fernando Valley. I learned more about the importance of oral health, specifically in relation to systemic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. I understood quickly the importance (and, oftentimes, the lack of) proper patient education and patient compliance in the dental field. I developed a resolve to build strong relationships with patients through proper communication and trust building.
Furthermore, I have been exposed to the life altering effects of cosmetic dentistry. A defining moment was when I met Trevor, a man with a complex medical history and severe periodontal disease, who came in weeks before his wedding for full oral reconstruction and implants. I witnessed how necessary dental work gave Trevor a new lease on his life and filled him with renewed confidence to take care of his body.
I am now confident that my passion for teaching others and maintaining a leadership role combined with my love for clinical dentistry has led me toward a fulfilling professional path. Although my childhood experiences may have been discouraging, my later experiences over the last number of years have reaffirmed a personal realization: that I have developed the interpersonal skills and love for dentistry to impact the future of healthcare in my community.
As I prepare to begin my first year in dental school, I am faced with the overwhelming cost of tuition and other necessary educational expenses. Dental school is four years, and interest accrues on my student loans while I am still enrolled. Any funding from the Medical Scrubs Collection Scholarship will allow me to alleviate some of these financial burdens so that I can reach my academic goals.

3. Mahnoor Raheel

Mahnoor Raheel

Colleen returned to the car, revealing a thumb spewing blood after having been slammed it in the hood of her car. “I’m going to pass out” she formulated. Her body started to stiffen and shake, presenting seizure-like symptoms I’d witnessed previously in Southside’s ER. I had seen Dr. Eve lay a patient back and lift his feet and so I followed by example with my friend. I began to dial 911 amidst the various prayers I had been reciting and, to my relief, Colleen had opened her eyes before the call was received.
This was not my first exposure to medicine. At a young age, I was introduced to my inspiration, Dr. Rehman. Whenever I would visit his office with a cold or a sore throat, I would leave feeling better than I’d entered. My curious mind wondered how my pediatrician fixed me so effortlessly and I was determined to learn how to do the same. So my pursuit of medicine began. On my 7th birthday, I asked my parents for a doctor set so I could practice on my brothers at home from then on. My desire to learn about medicine grew throughout high school to college as I joined science clubs, research programs, volunteered at hospitals during my summers, and eventually enrolled in pre-med courses.
The occurrence with Colleen was the first time I was solely responsible in an emergency. Fortunately, my journey to medicine thus far had given me the confidence to help. My years spent scribing in the ER were the most relevant. Whether the team was sprinting over in response to a "code blue" or a stroke patient with 30 minutes left to administer tPA, our job was to remain calm and aid with a clear head. The ER taught me composure. It fueled my pursuit of medicine as I observed physicians gracefully manage the chaos to save lives.
Clinical exposure taught me the value of comfort, so that I could console my friend after she awoke in shock and confusion earlier. While scribing for a renowned plastic surgeon, I learned the importance of consolation in unfortunate circumstances. After sitting through numerous consultations, I learned to comfort newly diagnosed cancer patients who presented for mastectomies. My psychology major had highlighted the significance of mental health in the recovery of a patient. Hence, most patients would leave the office with relief because we had simply taken the time to listen to them.
I was lucky to use my experiences to aid Colleen, but I was also scared. When someone you cherish is suffering, sometimes you feel helpless. You want to give your loved one the utmost care but you cannot. A physician is an individual who will provide this level of care and comfort. When you are most vulnerable and hand your trust to a physician, they will work endlessly to make sure they don’t let you down. They will treat your loved ones as their own. And that is the physician I hope to become.

4. Benjamin Linkous

Picture this: Labor Day evening in 2012, gathered around a swimming pool with close friends and their families enjoying each other’s company. In hindsight, this evening changed my life and future career goals. Around eight P.M., my nine-year-old sister, succumbing to peer-pressure, dove headfirst into the shallow end of a swimming pool. All eyes turned to her as she emerged from under the water holding her slightly crooked head. Both of my parents, retired paramedics, sprinted over and assessed her injury. My dad, realizing instantly what happened, wrapped his hands around her neck to support her head. My mom began shouting commands: “Pull the car around!” “Call the hospital!” I found myself shoved into a minivan with my dad in the center floorboard stabilizing my sister’s neck. We sped to the nearest Emergency Room. The hospital staff immediately took my sister back to perform their assessments. After taking many X-rays and CT scans, the doctor finally emerged to explain my sister’s condition. She had fractured her C1 vertebrae and possibly needed surgery to install a Halo. The doctor advised us that there was no pediatric neurosurgeon in the area and that they needed to transfer my sister by ambulance to the nearest one which happened to be an hour and a half away. We arrived at the next hospital only to have the doctors take more scans of her neck to confirm the diagnosis of a fractured C1. The attending physician strongly believed that my sister needed to have a Halo surgically inserted to hold her neck in a fixed position. The surgery was scheduled for early Tuesday morning.
The morning came and in walked the physician; after thorough review of her scans, the physician decided that my sister did not need to have a Halo, but rather a smaller neck brace to be worn for the next six months. This experience was both physically and emotionally exhausting on my family, but together we persevered and my sister is living with zero deficits.
The people mentioned in this story inspired me to pursue a degree in the medical field. My parents, who inspire me every day, embodied a strong composure in a high-stress environment to help save my sister’s future. The physicians, nurses, and other hospital employees recognized that my family was scared and provided much needed comfort to us during our stressful venture. Each one of those team members helped make my sister’s hospital experience as comfortable and as pain free as possible, and for that I am forever grateful.
However, I was most inspired by my sister, for she always had a positive attitude while she fought through the unknown. I’m pursuing a career in medicine with the hope that one day I’ll be able to provide my future patients with the same comforting experience that my family and I previously received.

5. Emily Mosley

Emily Mosley

Unlike most people who choose a career in the health industry, I did not always want to become a nurse. I began working for a local hospital in the materials department in 2016 and that is where I discovered my curiosity and love for medicine. When I would unload the materials ordered for the different departments I would be curious about what it did, how it worked, if it was effective, and what type of medical conditions it as used for. Luckily I worked alongside some amazing and patient nurses who didn’t mind explaining these things to me. I am a learner by nature. I have always sought to broaden my knowledge of whatever I have taken an interest in. I have been enrolled with Galen College of Nursing since July 2019. I have thoroughly enjoyed learning and helping my classmates learn the material needed to succeed in this program. I have discovered the rumors of how difficult the nursing program is are all completely true. This has been the most difficult thing I have ever done. It has proved a challenging program that has pushed me to think outside the box and dig as deep as I possibly can. I have consistently done well in all of my studies and am looking forward to learning even more.
My husband has also been a driving force for my career in nursing. He was diagnosed at birth with congenital adrenal hypoplasia. He has fought his whole life to simply feel normal. In times of illness I have taken care of him and found my love for caring for people who are not able to care for themselves. My husbands disease is one that affects the adrenal glands and the production of corticosteroids in his body. Without his replacement steroids he would gradually decline, eventually it would be fatal. He has been in the horrible position of almost passing away from this disease. In my second quarter of nursing school I learned so much about the adrenal glands, how they work, the different zonas, and the hormones they produced. It helped me to understand his condition with more clarity.
I have completed two clinical rotations, both being med surg courses. In my first clinical I was able to care for people with many different disorders. I enjoyed learning about these people, learning the disease process of each diagnosis, and developing a plan of care for each. I love the personal connections nurses get to make with their patients. It is absolutely the truth that a nurse is the one who makes the hospital stay either a horrible or a bearable experience. I aim to be one that my patients can seek comfort in. I aim to be a competent, compassionate, and trustworthy member of the healthcare team of each and every patient I am charged with caring for.

Winner 2019

Amiya Benson

Amiya Benson

Since elementary school, I was certain that I wanted to pursue a career in the medical field. Not only have I always loved to assist people, my hospital experience and the tragic death of my grandfather contributed to my marvelous career decision.
The summer before the start of fifth grade, on Father’s Day, my grandfather John Sandlin died due to a stroke. He inhabited many health issues that branched off from one matter: high blood pressure. I was nine years old when he died. Coming home from Georgia with my dad to be told my grandfather is no longer with us crushed my nine year old heart. Months before he died, I slept over at his house. Together, we watched the new show ​Saving Hope. I uttered to him “Granddaddy, I’m going to be a doctor one day and relieve you of your problems.” After he died, I felt as if it was my destiny to fulfill those words I spoke to him. Not only that, I grew curious of the sickness that killed my grandfather. Initially, I longed to hate it. Then, I longed to study it. Now, I long to cure it. I desire to find ways to help save the lives of another person’s loved one. It fascinates me that one day I’ll be prolonging the life of mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, grandfathers, and grandmothers.
Due to a mosquito bite on my nose that I scratched , I was hospitalized in June of 2014. One morning I woke up with a swollen nose as red as Rudolph the reindeer’s. While at the doctor’s office, I was diagnosed with a staph infection. The very next day my lip was as big as the Pacific Ocean. Returning to the doctor, he concluded to immediately admit me into Russell Medical Center. A straw was placed through my upper lip into my nose to allow complete drainage of the infection. Once I was relieved of MRSA, I was told I could have died from it and I was stronger than most adults that undergo the same thing. I was astonished how I shifted from possibly dying to completely healthy again. An amazing physician allowed me to see another day. My doctor is the reason why I am still a living entity on Earth. Dr. Tyler saved my life. I long to do that to someone else’s life.
As my doctor and nurses walked in and out of my room, I observed their roles in the hospital. They all had one thing in common: providing the best care for me while ensuring I felt as comfortable as possible. My caregivers made me feel like I was at home and distracted me from pain while saving my life. I love people as well as the science of the human body. It just makes sense to combine the two by becoming a physician that saves one’s life while allowing he or she to encounter the same peaceful experience as I did.

Finalists 2019

1. Will Ellis

My older brother is my motivation for going into the medical field. I was never able to experience that normal sibling relationship with my brother. My brother did not walk or talk. He only lived 12 short years. This is last professional picture that was taken of the three of us. My mom had these made for my dad for Father’s Day 2009 and Edward was gone before the next Father’s Day. He passed away on May 14,2010. He had a long list of diagnosis but the main was Lennox Gastaut syndrome. After watching my brothers life, it has inspired me to go into the medical field as a physician assistant to possibly help children like my brother. Thank you for this incredible opportunity to tell you about Edward.

2. Elena Bregier

I started my education in Sao Paulo, Brazil, as a kindergarten student. School was exciting to me as early as my first day, and made even more exciting when I became best friends with Alexandra. At the completion of kindergarten, Alexandra and I parted ways for the summer and made pinky-promises that we would remain best friends in first grade. When first grade began, I was devastated to realize that Alexandra was not in my class. I looked for her on the playground. I looked for her in the cafeteria at lunch. I scanned all of the other first grade classes we passed in the halls looking for my best friend. When I got home from school, I was greeted by my mother with devastating news. Alexandra's mother had written mine and explained that Alexandra had leukemia.
Alexandra and her entire family left Brazil to seek medical treatment in Houston, Texas. As a young child, I could not understand any of this. What is leukemia? Why do children get sick? Why is it preferable to seek specialized medical treatment in a place like Houston, Texas compared to Sao Paulo, Brazil? From then on, I made a vow to myself to learn more.
Throughout elementary, middle, and high school, I remained a focused student. During high school, I explored social events, sports, and what I might like to study at university. Though for some this transition proves difficult; to me it was very clear. Since the loss of my friend Alexandra as a young child, I wanted to be a pediatric nurse.
When I started nursing school at Michigan State University, I was pleased to learn that it was ranked number one in 2005 for undergraduate studies abroad. After my first year, I spent the summer studying global health in Ghana. There, I performed community health assessments and learned about barriers to accessing quality health care. Also, I learned about tropical diseases that are not part of traditional curriculum in BSN programs in the United States.
The next summer, I was involved in a community outreach program in Mexico where I served as a student leader to the group. These international experiences in concert with nursing in the classroom birthed an interest in global health and community service.
Upon graduating with my Bachelor's of Science in Nursing, I was offered many jobs in critical care. Among them, pediatric critical care spoke to me. My first job as a PICU nurse trained me in pediatric open heart surgery critical care, pediatric traumas, and childhood diseases with advanced complications. I gained tremendously from these on-the-ground experiences, enhanced by the critical thinking skills I learned school. After I became proficient in my field, I was recruited frequently for my pediatric cardiac surgery critical care skill set. This opened the door to life as a travel nurse where each term of employment lasts from three to six months. Travel nurses are recruited for an accomplished skill set in their specialty and they help address staff shortages. Now, I was able to help serve hospitals and well as children during their time of need. In between contracts, I had free time to travel and volunteer abroad. Finally, I had the opportunity to marry my passions between global health, pediatric populations, nursing and travel.
After achieving proficiency in my field, I wanted more. I craved to learn the nuances of other nursing specialties. Both my professional and personal growth have continued as I broadened my experiences. Nursing is an amazing field for its diversity and flexibility. I feel so fortunate to be a part of this profession that allows access and experience in other fields such as outpatient surgery, orthopedics, adult critical care, code team, cosmetics and dermatology.
Pursuing a master's degree in Nursing Education feels like a natural next step. My vision for educating other nurses will go further with the training I will receive from Western Governor's University. The skills I learn here will make me more relevant to developing sustainable healthcare programs for vulnerable children. Learning more, and helping others with what I learn, would fulfill my earliest childhood quest and make my friend Alexandra proud.
Following you will find a photo of me as a volunteer pediatric cardiac critical care nurse in Tehran, Iran, with Novick Cardiac Alliance. Organizations and events such as this have inspired me to pursue higher education in nursing, as the focus of volunteerism is sustainable and education-based.

Elana Brieger

3. Rebekah Buck

This is a picture of me and one of my many foster brothers. He came to my family with a broken skull and several other fractured bones in his body. I want to be a nurse so that I can help children, and adults, in need of protecting against other family members. I want to be able to see them through the physical healing process of their problem, as well as the emotional healing from all of the trauma.

Rebekah Buck


4. Jessica Biddle

A Time to Remember As a caregiver to my grandmother, I learned to accept the hardships of life and use these adversities as an advantage. My career aspirations became greatly inspired by my grandmother’s disability and so I’ve sought to find a profession in the medical field. I find that taking care of an Alzheimer’s patient as a teenager is a huge achievement in life. Not only was I helping someone I truly cared about, but I also took on a huge responsibility that most people wouldn’t have done because of the sacrifice.
A majority of the population who suffer from mental health problems resides in nursing homes today, but instead of my grandmother becoming a part of those statistics she was cared for by her loving daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughters. Yes, I would say that being a primary caregiver has caused me to miss out on some important aspects of my teenage years, but through it all, I was able to do something that most teenagers could never say they’ve done. I was able to learn about the effects of Alzheimer’s disease first hand and I was also given the chance to make a huge impact on my grandmother’s life. During high school, I took rigorous classes that required one hundred percent of my concentration. I always strived to make excellent grades in all of my courses and become as involved with my school as much as possible, and at the same time, provide care for my grandmother. Although it was extremely hard for me to balance my education and personal life, I was able to overcome this obstacle and continue to better myself, my community and my grandmother.
My grandmother never believed that there was anything wrong with her mind but rather with the minds of everyone else in the house. She never accepted the fact that she was slowly depreciating mentally and physically so she always tried to prove to us that she could still do daily tasks on her own. She once tried to cook food for the family but ended up starting a minor fire, she tried to make coffee by mixing creamer, sugar, cold water, and coffee grinds in a cup that she would soon forget and leave on the countertop, and she would microwave foods wrapped in foil and sometimes even nonfood items. Although she meant well, she became a hazard to herself and everyone else living here so we took safety precautions and baby-proofed the house. A typical day in my household usually consisted of trying to navigate my grandmother throughout her home. Because her illness had progressed, it became impossible for her to walk, talk, and eat. I remember one day I was showering my grandmother and she just started crying out of nowhere. I was confused as to why she was crying so I called my mother into the room. My mom asked her what was wrong but my grandmother refused to answer. My mother asked her if she was tired or hurting but still, she didn’t answer. So then my mother asked her, “ Are you crying because your granddaughter is having to bathe you?” and then my grandmother burst into more tears. I knew her circumstance wasn’t her fault so I had no right to be mad at her and the way she broke down in the shower made me break out into tears.
I would never wish Alzeheimer’s disease on my worst enemy because it’s a very heart-churning experience for the victim and their loved ones. There have been many emotional break downs during the time of taking care of my grandmother, but I’ve always tried to stay strong for myself and her. On April 16th, 2019, my grandmother slipped into a medically induced coma and a day later she passed away. Caregiving may have been a difficult task, but I was honored to have been there for my grandmother and make the last few years of her life enjoyable. Out of all my accomplishments and achievements in life, I would say that this is the one I am most proud of. Over the four years, I’ve learned many techniques and strategies. I’ve learned how to use a gate belt and sliding board to transport the patient, heel protector boots to keep blood clots and pressure points from developing, and types of medications used for Alzheimer’s patients. I learned how to bathe and clothe the patient in bed as well as turn them every two hours. I even learned how to healthily cope with these circumstances physically and mentally. Although this is not the “norm” of a teenage lifestyle, I was still able to gain a lot from this experience. I now know some of the things required of me as I seek a profession in the medical field and strive to bring awareness to mental health problems. With my experience and my desire to further my education, I plan to become a walking testimony for those who may be going through a challenging moment in their lives.



5. Lauren Anderson

I first met Mrs. Patton when I was in seventh grade at Deer Creek-Mackinaw Junior High. Mrs. Patton oversaw the science department, and she was my homeroom teacher that year. My life was filled with an instant joy from the moment I interacted with Mrs. Patton. She lit up every room with her enthusiasm for life. Mrs. Patton ignited a fire in me to always yearn for more. From the beginning of each day to the end, her joy never wavered. She was relentless in her pursuit of opening my eyes to the world of knowledge that came with science. Mrs. Patton embodied what it meant to love your job to the point where it never felt like you had to work. She had a passion for teaching and it was contagious in her students. I always enjoyed school, but it was Mrs. Patton that planted a seed in me about science that has only flourished since. I looked forward to homeroom and science class every day because I could be in her presence and feel her passion spread through the classroom.
During the winter, Mrs. Patton missed class for a week. We walked into class that day and knew something was wrong. Mrs. Patton would never miss class if she did not have to. With each day that passed, we grew more concerned until we discovered the news. Mrs. Patton was beginning her fight against melanoma. She returned to the classroom and the first thing she did when she walked through the door was smile. Despite the prognosis she was given earlier, she came in with the same energy that she came in with all year. She was battling cancer and not only returned to teach, but came back even harder. Mrs. Patton taught us a lot about science, but it does not compare to what she taught us about life. She attacked each day with an energy declaring that she was going to make this day the best one yet. One of the greatest lessons she taught me is when life comes at you hard and knocks you down, you get right back up and go back at it harder. She looked a challenge in the eye with a smile on her face and said, “Try me.”
Mrs. Patton used all of the fight inside her to battle melanoma but it was too advanced to overcome. She passed away that summer. Despite her physical absence, her spirit filled the classroom. Her spirit lives inside me to this day and is a driving force behind my approach to life. Because of her, I attack each day with the confidence that I can make a difference. She sparked a light inside of me to dream big dreams and to chase after them until they are mine. When something does not go as planned in my life, I think of the day she returned to class after being diagnosed and I immediately know that I have to return with a fight stronger than it was before. With Mrs. Patton’s influence on my life, I have been able to accomplish numerous goals and impact the lives of those around me. With her influence, I will continue to pursue my wildest dreams and do it with a joy that reminds me of her.

Winner 2018

Corrie Crump

This is the first photo ever taken of my family. This is also one of the moments that helped me to solidify my decision to become a midwife. The care I received from my OB team throughout my pregnancy, during delivery- which ended with a c-section, and even postpartum was phenomenal. This picture was taken in the operating room by my anesthesiologist after they laid my new baby girl on my chest once she and I were stable. This photo captures the happiest, most emotional moment of my life. I am perusing midwifery in hopes of providing the same kind of experience for others.

Corrie Crump

Finalists 2018

1. Sophie Roth

As I stood outside of the Israeli prison, a place where a common civilian cannot gain entry, I understood that medicine is not confined to boundaries or walls, locks or gates. Doors will always be open because in the end medical professionals value life above all other things. At a young age, I had pictured myself in the back of an ambulance, wearing a first responder uniform. A stethoscope gently resting around my neck as I pulled the bright blue, latex gloves onto my hands. Since I was a child I imagined the moment when I would be able to help someone in need of medical attention. I have always had an empathetic connection for individuals in their suffering. As a child, I remember questioning my pediatricians every move. I became innately aware of my thirst for knowledge and medicine and from that point on there was no fear of blood, or pain, or the environment I would be standing in. It was at this point that my developmental trajectory to study medicine formed. 15 years later, and here I was.
As I looked down to the stethoscope around my neck waiting outside of the prison, I began to worry about our next patient. Although I was surrounded by guards, as well as my fellow first responder volunteers, I felt ashamed as I began to question my safety. As a 17-year-old, American female volunteer I felt out of place, and uncomfortable at the entrance of the Israeli prison. Although I was surrounded by adults who were all fluent in the language of the state, I wondered whether or not I was safe entering a foreign prison. Ignoring my surroundings I jumped out of the ambulance’s rear doors, and proceeded, as I had been taught, to lift and then pull, the bed out of the vehicle. Reaching for the enormous first aid bag, I followed my Israeli driver into the prison. Walking into the facility alongside my driver, my fellow volunteer, and our prison guide I felt my confidence grow. As I observed the interior of the prison, I saw dozens of prisoners in the midst of their daily routine. Aside from the fact that some of the prisoners were wearing matching orange jumpsuits, this diverse group of men did not appear to be any different from the rest of the population.
Following the lead of my ambulance driver, I entered the doctor's office at the far end of the prison. I approached the prisoner and began to take blood pressure and pulse. Glancing at the face of the prisoner, I saw the deep wrinkles above his forehead and the tired look in his eyes. Was this man the prisoner I had previously been afraid to help? As a child, I dreamt of having the opportunity to work as a first responder. Now fulfilling my dream, in a foreign country, I was saddened by the influence that my preceding connotations of prisons had held. Prisoner or patient, the elderly Israeli man in front of me was still just that: an elderly man with a valuable life.

2. Bradley Wilinski

I’m interested in pursuing a career as a Certified Nursing Assistant because I find that helping people with disabilities is extremely rewarding. In my lifetime, I have needed help of others so I do have an understanding of what it’s like to need assistance. From the moment I was born, I have faced many challenges. At birth, I needed open heart surgery to correct a Congenital Heart Defect. The surgery fixed my heart but it also caused me to suffer a stroke. While the stroke didn’t cause me any visible physical problems, it did leave me with me with memory loss that has been an ongoing challenge for me. I have always been dedicated to work hard in school by studying much harder than the average student so I can remember information for quizzes and tests. Despite these challenges, I have managed to maintain a 3.5 grade point average in High School and I am a member of the National Honor Society.
One of the biggest challenges I have faced, has led to some of my greatest successes. At age 7, I was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, a neurological disorder in which your brain causes tics; movements or sounds that you can’t control. When I was in elementary school, things were extremely hard. Kids would laugh and stare as I was ticcing. Even teachers thought I was doing this on purpose and would yell at me to stop. I dreaded going to school, and knew that I had to do something to stop the bullying. I realized they didn’t understand about my Tourettes and it was up to me to change this. I started going to each and every classroom explaining about Tourette Syndrome and why I was making these sounds and movements. I realized that I wanted to help others with Tourette Syndrome, so I became a Youth Ambassador for the Tourette Syndrome Association. As a Youth Ambassador, I go to schools to speak to students and faculty to explain about Tourettes and what they might be seeing in a classmate.
I like being able to help others with the same condition as I have and help them find their voice. Last year in school I volunteered to be in a gym class where I got to work with special needs students. I enjoyed helping and watching them succeed in new experiences. This made me decide that I want to work with people with special needs. I have learned that even though I have a disability, and have faced challenges, I can never let it stop my hopes and dreams. Even if I have to work harder than most, I know that that’s what I need to do to succeed. I am very proud of my accomplishments and will continue to work hard to achieve my goal of succeeding in college.

Bradley Wilinsky

3. Hope Petersen

My Grandpa Richie, a dedicated and driven farmer who had never taken a sick day in his life, sat waiting in a doctor’s office. For months, he had lost weight rapidly and became more prone to common colds. After finding a lump under his arm, Grandpa knew it was time to face the mystery head on. One word would change my family’s lives forever: Lymphoma. Grandpa’s diagnosis would take many things from him, including his independence and strength. Despite these being robbed from him, Grandpa Richie took every measure to protect his biggest priority: precious time left with us.
The doctors presented Grandpa with the option of chemotherapy. However, he rejected the proposal. He resented the idea of leaving his family with tainted memories of him weak from the brutal chemicals. Grandpa Richie had lived a lengthy life filled with simple joys, such as being promoted from father to grandfather. He had accomplished all he desired to do, if not more. He was proud of the beautiful life he had built with his friends and family. Thus, Grandpa Richie did not want to count how many more memories he could create if he underwent chemo; he wanted to lose himself in the countless moments he had left.
Grandpa taught me to never reflect on life with bitterness. “A clock can only tick forward so that’s the way we go,” he would tell me. He never resented the struggles he faced; instead, he chose to love the life he was given. Grandpa kept his optimism by viewing his illness as an opportunity to live everyday with unfathomable joy. At first, it was hard for me to understand how he could not hate this awful disease; I saw it as an evil that turned my world upside down. The more it progressed, however, the more I understood Grandpa’s positivity. I was suddenly aware of the happiness simple things brought, such as how Grandpa held his coffee with both hands to soak up its warmth on chilly mornings. I began savoring every moment instead of taking them for granted. During the ups and downs of Grandpa’s journey, I came to realize where my place was in the world. I developed a love of caring for those in their last stages of life. I began working and volunteering at my local nursing home and hospital to gain a better understanding of this new passion. The more I interacted with those receiving hospice care, the more I realized this was where I was meant to be.
This coming fall of 2018, I will be attending St. Cloud State University to pursue my Bachelors of Science in Nursing. After graduating, I hope to be a home-health nurse specializing in hospice care. To me, there is nothing more rewarding than being a hand to hold and listening ear for those when they are most vulnerable. Caring for those who have impacted the world with their spirit and love, just like Grandpa Richie, is a blessing beyond belief.

Hope Peterson

4. Cassandra J. Zolnowski

I am 18 years old and in my sophomore year at Chamberlain College of nursing. If you were to ask me if I always wanted to be a nurse my answer would be no. I was around 7 or 8 when first being asked what I wanted to be and I had my little heart set on being a lawyer. There was no changing that I wanted to be a lawyer. It made money and I loved to debate and I thought that was my calling. I had this image in my head to be this successful lawyer who could pay for her mother when she got older. It wasn’t until the end of year of my freshman year where I knew I wanted to be a nurse I would do anything and everything to make that happen.
I didn’t grow up with the traditional American family and struggled through a lot of hardships but through all that I had my Aunt Sherry and her house was my escape. Whenever I needed money or food or just to spend the night some where we were always welcomed with her loving arms. Freshman year everything is going great. I had the support system I needed but it suddenly it came crashing down when my aunt got sick. My aunt became hospitalized and underwent surgery. My aunt didn’t make it. It was that day I died inside. I didn’t make the best choices following her death but the one thing that stuck with me is the nurses. I remember walking that hospital with my mom and siblings and getting lost and asking the nurses where to go and the nurses constantly checking in and I understand it is their job but it felt like a comfort from them. I felt almost safe.
As I was going through this life changing experience I began to look back at all the times I had been in the hospital for sprained ankles, misplaced shoulders, stitches, allergic reactions I can’t remember the part that included the doctor just the nurses. The nurses where the ones to keep checking on me and getting me fitted for crutches and slings and staying around to make sure I was alright. It was after my aunts passing where I had my epiphany and knew nursing was my calling, becoming a nurse is what I am meant to be in life. I continued through my remaining three years of high school researching and applying for colleges and scholar ships and making sure I would be alright once I walked out the doors in high school. I was blessed enough to be accepted into all the schools I applied to and ended up choosing Chamberlain for the financial needs it was able to assist with. I remember walking in last year and getting my tour and just wanting to cry because I never felt more welcome in a place before. I had a sudden rush of energy and happiness when we entered all the sim labs and met professors and I just knew this is what I was meant to do and be.
I took something negative and made it into something positive something I know I love and enjoy and something that will be escape just like my aunt was at some point in time. I completed my first year of nursing school with making the dean’s list and I continue to brag about it to this day. Nursing isn’t a hobby it’s my passion.

5. Hailey Danna

Compassionate, respectful, empathetic, and confident. These are the traits of some of the most influential people in the workforce, medical professionals. My interest in the medical profession not only came from the dramatizations on television, or the stories I was told, but also by the endeavors of my parents. Over the years, my mother has worn many hats in the nursing profession. From a surgical nurse, a hospice caregiver, program coordinator and nursing educator, my mother has done it all. Growing up, I remember my mother dragging herself through the door following a sixteen hour shift. Though she was drained, she always would share how relieved she was that she was able to help someone that day or provide a peaceful passing for a patient under hospice care. At a young age, I remember my mother sharing with me children’s books about the body systems, I became increasingly mesmerized at how intricate the body functions were. The many systems working together like well-oiled machine to perform the many intricate tasks that are required fascinates every cell in my being.
My father, a former volunteer fireman, also influenced me in an astonishing way. I fondly remember waking up in the middle of the night, an intense ringing of his pager echoed through the house. Often followed by the clamoring of the bedside table, the sound of heavy boots down the hallway, the thud of our door being swung open, and an increasingly distant sound of sirens as my father raced to save whomever needed him. When he arrived, he would run, climb, and crawl through smoke filled rooms set ablaze in order to rescue someone in need. My father never knew these people nor had any relation to them, yet he went in to save them nonetheless. Upon his return, he always shared stories of heroically risking his life, entering a burning building to save the life of a complete stranger. The thing that always amazed me the most, however, was when we saw those strangers in public and they approached him thanking him and I could see the gratitude rush over their face like a wave crashing on the beach. The combination of both he and my mother acting as strong influences introduced at a young age, shaped me into the passionate seventeen year old that I am today.
My past has drastically influenced both the person I am today and the person I hope to be in the future. I am often viewed as crazy for having such a passion at this age and people often tell me to loosen up and just enjoy being a kid. However, being a kid and being the way that I am has gotten where I am today and what I really want to enjoy is my future in the medical profession. Though it is outlandish for a teenage girl to say she has a passion for medicine, I am that seventeen year old girl who believes that through the medical profession she can truly make an impact and give back in an unconventional way.

Winner 2017

Alli Schlosser

Times of trial throughout life allow a person to learn the most about themselves. The biggest trial in my life helped me determine the career I want to pursue. During a soccer game my junior year of high school, I felt an excruciatingly painful pop in my knee. Numerous doctors appointments following my injury determined that I had torn my ACL, and I was sent in to have surgery on my injured knee. A day following surgery, I anxiously went to my first physical therapy appointment. My nerves were instantly calmed when the therapist assured me that life would be back to normal before I knew it. She helped me recover completely and come back to soccer stronger than I was before. I could not have gotten through what I consider some of the worst moments in my life without the help of my physical therapist always encouraging and inspiring me.
Not only is it important to have physical therapy but also psychological therapy. Having a serious injury that involves much recovery can be devastating and difficult at times. I would often catch myself feeling discouraged and worried about trying to make a complete recovery for the next soccer season. However, my physical therapist encouraged and inspired me through it all. Each session she would reassure me that I was on the road to a great recovery and that this would make me stronger than ever.
Going through many strenuous weeks of physical therapy helped me come to a conclusion as to what career I wanted to pursue. I want to be able to help injured athletes going through the toughest times of their athletic career by helping the athlete recover through physical therapy. After graduating with my intended major in exercise science, my goal is to go on to get my Doctorate in Physical Therapy. Seeing how much my therapist helped, encouraged, and strengthened me inspired me to want to do the same for other athletes and people with disabilities. Tearing my ACL may have been a painful and trying experience, but it lead me to the realization of the career I want to pursue in life.
At a recent soccer game, I felt another pop in my knee followed by raging pain. Instantly, I knew I had retorn my ACL. Devastating set in as I realized my high school soccer career was over. Once again, I will have to go through another surgery and months of recovering through physical therapy. However, this time around I am not worried about my recovery. My past experience with physical therapy left such a positive impact on me, and I know my physical therapist will once again do everything she can to help me make another full recovery.

Finalists 2017

1. Beria Heyman

As someone who does not know me looking in on my life, they might see just a normal African-American girl. However I am far from normal, for starters I am Transracially adopted. Meaning that me and my parents look nothing alike and people often question if I am biologically related to them all the time. Another thing that makes me stand out is that I was born with Sickle Cell Anemia, a genetic blood disorder that causes pain and complications all throughout life. My parents knew this going into the adoption and thankfully followed through.
Throughout my life I have struggled with Sickle Cell and its varying complications. From minor pain to full on pain crisis, Sickle Cell constantly reminds me that it is ever so present in my life. Recently I have had problems with my blood volume and keeping it at a stale level. My hematocrit levels keep dropping to dangerously low levels, leaving me feeling dizzy light headed and fatigue. Lucky my team of Hematologists and nurses have been on top of trying to find a solution to this never ending problem. We’ve came up with having blood transfusions every month about a year ago when this all started. In the beginning of this I dreaded going to the hospital for a multitude of reasons, like missing schools, or the hospital time or just the simple fact that these visits are constant reminders of my Sickle Cell. However my sulking to the hospital stopped when I meet a transfusion nurse named Jennifer. Jennifer and I just clicked immediately making my experience at the hospital a little less gloomy and a whole lot better. When drawing my blood we’ll talk about our common interest like Tv shows, books and our shared interest in 90’s rap music. Jennifer truly makes my hospital experience better.
I want to join the medical field so I can be like Jennifer for another kid. My goal is to become a pediatric nurse in the hematology clinic at Children's Hospital. I am positive that my appreciation for nurses comes from all of the hospital visits and overnight stays that I have had myself. I remember being 12 and knowing that I wanted to be in the medical field, however back then I had not figured out for what. So every time I went into the hospital I watched the nurses, doctors and everyone else, so I could get a sense of what I wanted to do in the future. Around the age of 15 after I had collected all of my data, I decided that I wanted to be a nurse, because nurses are the ones that truly make a difference. Hopefully in the future, I will make a difference for someone.

2. Brianna McMillion

I found my passion for becoming a nurse on a mission trip in Mexico. To begin, every year my church goes down to Mexico to help at a church plant. Sometimes when we go down we are working on the church and making their meeting place more comfortable, while other times we are serving the community by working to clean up and paint houses. While we are down there we stay in houses and last year one of the houses on the other side of the street blew up. Apparently, there was a gas leak in the house and at about 1:14 am on New Year’s Day the house collapsed. It was so scary. I was sleeping in the living room and when the explosion happened, the door was blown open by the force. All of us poured out of the house, having no clue what was happening. All the youth on the trip were so scared because all we saw was a fire and a collapsed building. Then, while our leaders were telling us to get back, we could hear people in pain, yelling for help. It was so hard to stand back and not be able to do anything. I felt so helpless and fearful of what would happen next. One of the leaders on the trip, Carol, was a nurse and she immediately jumped in to deliver first aid, until the ambulance came. Later, the couple who were trapped in the collapsed house came to our youth group to talk to us about what happened. The couple talked about what an impact the leader had on them. The husband talked about how calm and collected the leader was. They were so scared and my leader allowed them to feel safe. It was not the clinical skills or technical medical stuff she did that helped them most, but her calmness, in one of the scariest nights of their lives. This experience inspired me to want to become a nurse. I want to go to college and hone my skill, so that when the time comes I can help people. That youth leader did not know that 212 miles from home, at 1 o’clock in the morning, she would need to provide service to a random couple. However, she answered the call and did what she was trained to. My call may never be to save someone from a collapsed building or fire. My day may come in the form of being able to relate to a patient and provide a sense of security in their time of need. Additionally, I never want to be in a situation like the one I faced in Mexico, where there are people in need and I am unable to help them. I never want to feel that useless. To conclude, when I went on a mission trip to Mexico, seeing one of my leaders who is also a nurse, help a couple in need, inspired me to purse becoming a nurse.

3. Kailey Minks

The young man looked fearful . . . anxious. He was lying on the football field, holding his ankle, his eyes glassy with pain. He looked to me for comfort under the beaming stadium lights. It was in this moment that I knew, I had the power to make this a positive situation, ensuring the player was not afraid.
After suffering many injuries while playing competitive volleyball, I was forced to give up the sport I loved during my sophomore year. When the school’s Athletic Trainer asked if I would be interested in joining the Sports Medicine Program, I jumped at the opportunity. Upon completing first aid and emergency response training, I soon found myself kneeling on the field comforting the young man and assessing his ankle. I was nervous, as this was my first football game as a student athletic trainer, but I felt well prepared for what I needed to do. The rest is history.
I quickly learned during the next two years that I was passionate about the healing process. I always knew an occupation in healthcare interested me, but now I was positive. I want a challenging career, one that forces me to keep learning. I want to make a difference in people’s lives and make an impact on their everyday routine. In my high school classes I have excelled in a variety of areas; from academics, to photography, to cooking. I was awarded a $3,500 scholarship my senior year to attend a Medical Careers Exploration Program at the local community college. In this program I have gathered a wealth of information regarding the many occupations available within the medical field.
My great-grandmother was a nurse up until retirement, I will always remember the satisfaction she felt by helping people through her work. She worked a pediatric nurse, inspiring my hope to become a nurse midwife. My mom also works in a hospital and comes home every day confident with the fact that she has helped patients in receiving the best care possible. Both women are inspirations to my goals.
I want to be a nurse because I believe I can contribute to someone’s day. Whether it is with a smile, a comforting word, or by providing the best care, I know I will do my utmost for each patient. I believe that becoming a nurse will fit in with my personality. I appreciate a challenge, I am energetic, loving, and I thrive in a fast-paced atmosphere. I look forward to continual learning opportunities, as I know that making a difference in someone’s life will be rewarding. I am a person with strong values, and a great respect for life. I feel compassion for the suffering and I am patient. I see nursing as the career that is meant for me. I believe that becoming a nurse will mean the difference between my making a living and making a life and I look forward to this challenge.

Kailey Minks

This photo is the first time I ever wore scrubs, but definitely nowhere near my last time wearing them!

4. Taylor Marlay

I was a micro-preemie. My twin and I were born prematurely at 26 weeks and I weighed just 1pound and 13 ounces. While our start was very difficult for our family, my mom says that it was one of the most special journeys she and my dad have ever taken.
Thanks to the care of the nurses and the neonatologists at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, I am now a 19 year old college student with a totally clean bill of health. The stories that my parents tell of our time in the hospital are the primary inspiration for my pursuit of a nursing career. Additionally, my mom has worked in Radiology at our hometown hospital for over 30 years and I have grown up around the health care setting. Since we were able to talk, my sister and I were volunteering at the hospital by appearing in marketing efforts and helping with community activities. In high school, I was fortunate enough to have a partial nursing education through a community college in our area. Our high school and the college have a partnership r to offer college classes to high school students through a career academy. It was when I was arranging my schedule for my junior year that I decided to enroll in the Nursing program.
I loved taking care of patients and found myself interested in different procedures and tasks that nurses are involved in. I felt like I had truly found my way and that this was definitely the career for me. I continued with academy through high school and took many of the required nursing courses as well as doing clinical time in local nursing homes. Working with the elderly is very rewarding and they have so much knowledge to offer regarding life experiences.
I am enrolled in community college and taking classes to help build my Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing while I wait to begin the Associates Degree Nursing Program in June of 2018. I have been accepted and all of my core education classes have been completed as well as some of my primary nursing courses. Once I complete the program at community college, I will then move on to complete my Bachelor’s Degree while I work as an RN.
I feel that I owe a great deal to the doctors and nurses who cared for me and I want to pay that forward to help others through times of need with their health. I have had the pleasure of observing in the Surgical and Emergency Room areas as well. I find that those areas offer more of a challenge to me personally and feel that I may want to specialize in one of them.
As I continue on with my education and embark on the path to my nursing career, I can’t help but think about those individuals that were there for my parents as well as my twin and I. I hope to be able to share the gift of service to others.

5. Kristin Kowaleski

I was inspired to pursue a career helping others because of events I had gone through in my life. Starting in my sophomore year in high school, I began passing out almost daily. With countless doctors and nurses visits we finally found the answer while at Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago. While in the cardiology unit, Dr. Webster and his Nurse Practitioner Jaclyn, ran test after test knowing it was a heart rhythms problem, but how they would go about fixing it was the question that had yet to be answered. After 10 days as an inpatient at Lurie Children’s in 2015, I was sent home on medication and with an implanted heart monitor. Much as I hoped this would solve my problems – it did not. However, it did allow my team to spot that I would have 10 second pauses between each heartbeat which is why the passing out spells were occurring. Come 2016, we decided the best course of action was to implant a pacemaker. After the surgery, I would not be allowed to do the one thing I loved the most- swim. This was heartbreaking for me, and my doctors and nurses knew the toll it was taking on me. Thankfully, with the support of those around me, I was able to put my energy into other things such as being accepted into a top nursing school and becoming the swim coach for special needs kids at my high school. I wanted to be the support for others in their tough time just as my medical staff and family had done for me.
This year the symptoms from my past had all returned. Episodes of heart palpitations, syncope, and shakiness were back in full swing at full force. The doctors and nurses who were there from the start were once again by my side. Dr. Webster discovered the pacemaker had malfunctioned and needed to be replaced as soon as possible. Although this may sound like a simple procedure, it was not. What should have been one 2 hour procedure turned into two, six hour procedures because my heart was not cooperating with the removal of the old pacemaker and the implantation of the new one. This was frustrating for me as well as hard for my body to handle. As my family encouraged me to be strong, so did the nurses and doctors taking care of me. In fact, Dr. Webster sat with my family through both of my surgeries and visited me with Jaclyn, his nurse practitioner, even though I was moved into an adult hospital. It is my experiences with these wonderful nurses and doctors who truly care about their patients that makes me want to be a nurse. I want to be the support for my patients and comfort them in their time of need like the nurses at Lurie's and Northwestern did for me.

Kristin Kowaleski

Above is a picture of me this fall in Northwestern Hospital.


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