Nursing and health sciences students at National Park College were awarded $133,735 in scholarships Thursday at the annual Nursing and Health Sciences Honors Day event.
Community organizations and private donors, many of whom are NPC alumni, presented 175 scholarships to students from the Frederick M. Dierks Center for Nursing and Health Sciences.
Janice Ivers, NPC dean of nursing and health sciences, said the event is "the highlight in April" for the nursing and health sciences department.
"Nursing Honors Day is just heartwarming, as far as I'm concerned, to see everybody, to see all the donors and to hear the stories about where this money came from and why you're donating," she said. "And then to see the students' responses because these are surprise recipients, so to see them honored this way."
Ivers thanked the donors, not only for the impact of the money donated for the scholarships but also for the confidence the students gained from receiving the scholarships.
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"You have no idea the impact that the money makes, but the impact from that vote of confidence from receiving a scholarship means a lot for these students," she said to the donors.
That vote of confidence is what led to one donor presenting the "Inspire to be the Best" scholarship.
"First, it's an honor to be here today," said Tony Tackett, a 2005 NPC graduate. "And to the women of the Presbyterian Church, thank you. 19 years ago, I received your scholarship. That scholarship meant much more than just financially. It meant that somebody believed in me. And so, thank you."
Many other alumni presented scholarships throughout the event, including Tiffany McConathy, Makyla Thornberry and Kristen Ferrell, who each presented awards in honor of their children.
McConathy's scholarship titled "Princess Nora Memorial Scholarship" was awarded in honor of her daughter, Nora, who died of a rare pediatric cancer at 14 months old.
"I'm an advanced oncology nurse practitioner at Genesis here in town," McConathy said. "I have been working in oncology since I graduated here in 2011, and I never knew why I loved oncology. It was just something that I felt passionate about. You know the saying, 'Everything happens for a reason.'"
Thornberry presented a scholarship in honor of her daughter, Ava, who is disabled. Her daughter was the reason she decided to become a nurse and study at NPC, she said.
"It's important to always remember your why," Thornberry said.
After graduating from NPC last year and receiving a scholarship, she decided to pay it forward and donate a scholarship to another student this year, she said.
Ferrell presented a scholarship in honor of her daughter, Emersyn, who died in her sleep at 20 months old.
"As a registered nurse for nine years at the time, I knew she was gone, but I could not comprehend it," said Ferrell, who graduated from NPC in 2010. "All I wanted was to wake up from the nightmare. ... Her death was categorized as sudden unexplained death in childhood or SUDC. I had never heard of this in my life. I knew what SIDS was, but SUDC?
"It is determined the category of death after a thorough investigation including an autopsy, and it affects children between the ages of 1 and 18 years old."
As a way to raise awareness and give back, Ferrell donated a scholarship to an NPC student titled "Emy's Sunshine Scholarship."
Several other private donors and organizations also presented scholarships during the event, including CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs. Teresa Lambert presented the CHI St. Vincent Pathways Excellence scholarship to six students, who also work at the hospital.
"As the only magnet facility in the southwest portion of the state, we strive for excellence," Lambert said. "And we know that National Park College gives us excellent nurses."