When you sit a group of College of Nursing students around a table to talk about their path to nursing, a few words come up over and over. Passion. Sacrifice. Impact. When the discussion turns to the scholarship they each received from the Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation, another word rings loud and clear: gratitude.
The Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation has partnered with the College of Nursing for the last five years, awarding scholarship grants to women based on academic accomplishments and financial need. This year’s recipients range from a single mom of four children, to career-changing teachers, to others who have wanted to work in the medical field since they were children.
Their stories are varied, but their gratitude for the scholarship is the common thread. “I wondered how I was going to make it,” says Chavona Scott. A single mom of four children ranging in age from six to 19, she relocated from Palm Beach County to begin the program at UCF. Now, in her last semester, she’s eager to make an impact as a nurse, just as the Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation made an impact the on her. “The scholarship was so much of a blessing,” she says. “With four kids — they are my job, along with studying. Not having to worry about financial aid takes a load off.”
Elsa Genova’s parents’ home was an open house for missionaries from her church. She thought their work was fascinating. “They’d spend months in the field and return with stories,” she says. That life appealed to her, and she wondered what she might do to be of service. “Then it clicked,” she says. “I thought about going into the medical field and being part of a missionary team.” Elsa turned to nursing and is in her junior year. The scholarship helped her scale back the hours at her job, and spend more time studying.
“I was surrounded by nurses in my family, and I wanted to do anything but nursing,” says Nicole Murphy. Her education path took her to the University of Florida where she earned a degree in education. After two years of being a teacher and track coach, she felt unfulfilled. She realized what others in her family suspected all along: nursing was a good fit, after all. She enrolled in the accelerated, second degree nursing program at UCF. “The program is intense, and we don’t have time to work,” she says. “The scholarship has been a big help.”
Amy Stanley was a teacher for ten years but always loved the medical field. “I was scared out of [pursuing] nursing because I never did well in math and science,” she says. But with two young children at home the thought of returning to school was daunting. “It was a scary jump, after all those years,” she says. After speaking with several nurses in the area, all directed her to UCF’s nursing program. She is on track to graduate in August and says the scholarship she received took away a lot of stress: “With two kids at home, I didn’t have to worry about working. I could study and also be with them. The scholarship allows me to accomplish both.”
The Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation is a charity dedicated to supporting women in nine southeastern states. The Foundation devotes most of its resources to its scholarship program, which provides scholarships to schools and colleges for deserving female students. The Foundation maintains a special interest in nursing education, medical education and the allied health field. More than 200 institutions participate annually in the Lettie Pate Whitehead scholarship program.
This fall, 22 UCF nursing students received funding and additional students will receive funding when the spring award cycle is complete in March.