October 20, 2021

VOTE For a Nursing Student To Win The Healthcare Leaders Scholarship 2021

VOTE For a Nursing Student To Win The Healthcare Leaders Scholarship 2021

We at are thrilled to help support the next generation of nurse leaders by offering our 5th annual $1000 Healthcare Leaders Scholarship. 

Vote for your pick to win the Healthcare Leaders scholarship by November 1, 2021. 

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Congrats to Jazzmen Blackwell!

"Although I am fortunate to be utilizing my VA education benefits to help pay for the cost of school there are still a lot of out-of-pocket costs we are required to cover on our own such as parking permits, school supplies, required technology. My current laptop is almost 7 years old and functions like it is so this will help me with the purchase of a new laptop which we are required to have throughout the program. Anything helps honestly, and I'm so grateful to have been chosen for this scholarship. It truly is making the difference because out-of-pocket costs can become extremely straining on a student and induce a lot of stress. The ABSN program is extremely rigorous, in which it's not recommended to have employment throughout the duration of the program due to the demanding and fast-paced curriculum. I'm thankful to have been chosen for this scholarship and grateful to all of my friends and family who have supported me throughout my journey!"

2021 Top 5 Finalists

Name: Julie Padilla

School: Brookline College

I was a high school dropout and teenage mom who never went to college. I became a full-time mom to my family and caregiver for my grandmother. Fast-forward a few years; my children grew up, graduated from high school, and started their own lives. l decided it was time for me to fulfill my dream of becoming a nurse. I am 43 and I am currently a level one BSN nursing student. The program is very challenging, but I am determined to follow through on my dream! I want to make my family proud and most of all, continue in my desire to love and care for others through the field of nursing. Though it is challenging, and easily one of the most difficult things I’ve attempted in my life, thus far, Nursing school is amazing! I’m doing it and becoming more confident in my abilities to accomplish this goal. Surrounded by my peers who are relatively younger, I am encouraged! I look forward to me and my fellow peers achieving our dream!. I’m doing it, after all of these years, and this makes me very excited! I am grateful for the opportunity to reach for my dream of becoming a Nurse.

I do feel that safe staffing issues are a major concern for our nurses and the patients we care for. Nurses, committed to saving and preserving life, should not have to be forced to work with unsafe staffing ratios, risking their patient's safety, and their own. Patients deserve better, as do the nurses providing care.

Name: Jazzmen Blackwell

School: Duke University School of Nursing

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to be a nurse. I come from a low-income family with little formal education, forcing me to navigate my academic journey on my own. I didn’t have much support or guidance in regard to college and life post-graduation. Desperate for an escape and guidance I joined the military, which was the best decision I could have made for myself. Coming from a low-income family with poor access to health care inspires me to become an advocate for individuals who share similar backgrounds to mine.  One of the main lessons I learned while serving in the military is that being open with others about my challenges not only helps me overcome them but can help me develop a sense of strength and purpose that can eventually extend to others. My own health struggles led to my interest in providing high-quality healthcare as a nurse. I experienced neglect and poor care from the military health care system. I constantly had to advocate for myself to receive basic care which took a toll on my body. I was dealing with health issues, which compounded an overall decline in my mental health. I was searching for someone to level with me and tell me it was going to be okay. I found that person in one of my care providers while I was serving. He became a mentor, and when I told him I was interested in entering the healthcare field myself, he instantly connected me with other providers who had faced similar circumstances. My experience with his compassion and support, juxtaposed with substandard care earlier in my health journey, solidified my desire to enter the healthcare field. I was faced with a decision, to continue my military career knowing I would not be able to serve as a nurse or change my path for a new beginning. I decided to refocus and become the change I want to see in healthcare providers.

I've faced many challenges while on my educational journey. I worked full-time in the military and still made time to take classes in the evenings. I transitioned out of the military back to civilian life as a full-time student with no experience or guidance within a college classroom. I've had to take over care of my younger sister while helping guide her to a good future and helping her become the second person in our family to graduate high school and go to college along with myself. I struggled but I always found my way, and I found the support and resources I needed to learn how to be successful as a college student. There aren’t many resources for transitioning veterans wanting to pursue higher education, but I was grateful to have found the Warrior-Scholar project. The program has helped me grow so much as a person, in ways that I could have never done so on my own. It’s given me the tools I needed to help me reach my goals and learn about myself. Returning as a fellow has allowed me to give back to the veteran community, which is something I’ve grown to be extremely passionate about and hope to always be able to do throughout my life in any way I can. 

Life has a way of testing you, and at times it’s easy to almost consider giving up. I will be graduating as a first-generation college student this December from UNC Charlotte and starting school at the #2 undergraduate BSN program in the country this upcoming January. I couldn’t have gotten this far without the love and support of my close friends and family. The challenges I've faced have only made me push myself harder and grow into a stronger and more resilient person. I am proud of what I have accomplished, but I know I still have a long way to go and I'm up for the challenge no matter what obstacles I'm forced to face.

Name: Patrick Hang

School: California State University Northridge

One of the highlights of my career in healthcare was being able to present a novel case study at the Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates at their conference in Portland, Oregon in 2019. Sharing the novel "Trans-urethral Enteric Feeding Tube Placement" procedure I took part in with other professional GI nurses and the staff was one of the highlights of my professional career. 

Another passion project that I am currently running is the Mentorship program at CSUN, where the goal of the program is to help incoming nursing students transition to the fast-paced accelerated BSN life. We pair incoming students with more senior ones so that they have a confidante and someone who can relate to their situation. The more senior students have an opportunity to support another individual, mentor them, tutor them and hone their leadership skills. If I were to point at one highlight of my nursing school career it would be this. The opportunity to help guide others is a rare one to be a part of so early in my nursing career. It also reinforces the idea that I want to help mold young minds as either a clinical instructor or a professor later in my career. 

Name: Anna Tuttle

School: Case Western Reserve University

I believe that the last several years of my life have been leading me to this program and my future from here. Having worked as an EMT making decisions in the field with medical control as well as working alongside paramedics, I have been uniquely exposed to complex situations where decisions need to be made without delay and all assessments and interventions must be handled both expeditiously and without error. Throughout nursing school, I have been privileged to work at the Cleveland Clinic in one of the top CVICUs in the world and to work with complex cases that come along with being a quaternary care center. I consistently thrive in these challenging environments because they push me continuously out of my comfort zone and excite me to continue exploring the intricacies of nursing practice.

Recently it has been noticed by my employers as well as my preceptors that I am more confident and capable in my role and that I have been consistently improving to the point where I am now actively engaged in not only the patient treatment but also the planning.

Name: Ingrid Noriega

School: New England Institute of Technology

There are many different reasons why someone may pursue a career in the Health Science field, the medical arena is a very broad spectrum. My very own reason tends to be a very personal reason, which many do not know about me and the volume it speaks to the type of empathetic person I am today or the intensity of my moral beliefs. I will dedicate my life and advocate for those who feel without a voice. 

 I had an older sister, Diana, who was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy a few weeks after birth; she suddenly and unexpectedly passed away in the early hours of a Saturday morning. Just a few days shy of her 29th birthday this past August, she shared her last breathes with us, at home surrounded by her family- in the arms of my mother who desperately clung onto her daughter, almost as if she was trying to hold onto my sister’s life. As Diana was non-mobile and non-verbal, I wanted to pursue a nursing career to cater to her needs with extensive and adequate medical knowledge, an understanding of and importance of preventing asepsis to my critically delicate sister. She had a wide range of health complications and immunodeficiency which resulted in relentless hospital admissions and medications. I wanted to deliver the maximum quality care to someone I love.  

Unfortunately, she passed a few months after I enrolled in an accelerated health science program, at a nationally recognized, top-ranked nursing and health science degree programs university, New England Institute of Technology. I expect to transfer into the nursing program by the end of the year, after successfully passing the Kaplan Nursing Entrance exam. I regret not enrolling sooner, as she was my focus and my motivation for completing my BSN.  

Although Diana was never able to speak, she was an educator, guidance, and an inspiration to those who surrounded her daily. She taught me to love unconditionally, she taught me how to be patient. She taught me to help those in need without asking for anything in return. She taught to me speak up, voice the unspoken concerns, and put into words the ugly thoughts and questions we had in regard to her health. Diana taught me to appreciate and enjoy today, to live and laugh for today. She taught me not to judge, and to put others' needs before my own. I believe it would be a shame to deprive the world of the first-hand experience and knowledge obtained from caring for her. I would love to give back to the world all the love, care, and attention she received from medical professionals, as one myself.  

One of my biggest accomplishments up to date is a personal achievement, it may not seem as much to others, but after everything I’ve been through this year, it shows me perseverance will get me anywhere in life, if I only put my mind to it. I come from a large family of seven, which now happens to be six. My sister was our first deceased immediate family member, as expected, it shook my family in ways we never imagined experiencing so soon. Diana passed away on the weekend before my midterm exam week, as if midterms aren’t stressful enough. 

With a heavy and broken heart, in midst of outbursts of hot tears and grieving, I found myself with a burning urgency to study for my Anatomy midterm exam, which was scheduled for Monday morning at 8:30 am. While dealing with the funeral director, grieving, and dancing in and out of depression episodes all while tending to my toddler daughter I am a single parent to, I somehow found the time and energy to study. I replaced my crying insomniac moments and devoted it to my study guide. I replaced the regurgitating of my fast-food meal from my tight throat and hot streams of tears, into stimulating my long-term memory with medical terminology, identifying connective tissue structures, reciting the twelve cranial nerves with their functions, and the fifty hormones found in our endocrine system.  I felt so proud of myself when I learned I had passed my midterm exam with an A-.  

I find myself to be more motivated than ever to get into the nursing field. I feel as if providing medical care to those in desperate need, in the most difficult times of their lives, and supporting family members is my life calling mission. I lived difficult times alongside my sisters and parents, I’m able to relate firsthand to those overwhelming feelings in their chests and throats, and mind blogging fuzz. I can relate to the pain, the ache, and sorrow. I can make difference in the lives of patients in my care and their loved ones as a Critical Care Nurse, as I could have as my sister’s nurse.  

Name: Karen Elmaraghy

School: University of San Francisco

My goal is to empower and inspire patients in marginalized communities. Growing up in an underserved community, I witnessed the many health disparities that exist. While I have observed how a lack of healthcare can negatively impact the quality of life, I have also seen the positive influence that a nurse can have on transforming a patient’s outcome. Patients who are socioeconomically disadvantaged, underinsured, and have experienced family stressors face barriers that prevent them from accessing quality healthcare. Having faced these obstacles and frustrations as a child, I am committed to alleviating patients of that burden. These experiences have broadened my perspective and taught me that education is power, which is why I intend to pursue a Family Nurse Practitioner degree to tackle disparities in healthcare and improve the lives of individual patients, but also address the changing needs of entire communities. As a nurse, I will always use the proper scientific and emotional tools to guide my patient’s health. That is, after all where my love of nursing stems from; the beautiful outcomes of combining science and human kindness. I am confident that with nurture, knowledge, and kindness driving my motivation, I can plant seeds of hope and love in my future patients allowing me to be a source of comfort as they heal along their journey. My twenty-three years of life experience have taught me to embrace growth and self-discovery to fulfill my purpose in life: to ultimately serve others. I am a passionate, empathetic person whose optimistic resilience and compassion are the driving force behind what I do. My experiences have broadened my perspective and have motivated me to step up to challenge and overcome the obstacles placed in our healthcare system.

Starting grad school during the pandemic was initially difficult to navigate. Overtime after trial and error and much research, I become acquainted with the process and learned how to be successful. The first semester of nursing school is difficult and because I experienced that, I wanted to ensure that new nursing students have the support that they need to be successful. I decided to be a mentor for new nursing students to offer support, advice, and my learning experiences so that they have encouragement and someone to lean on when things get tough. I hope that I can make a difference in their lives and help guide them in their nursing journey.

Congrats To Everett Moss!

Congrats to our scholarship recipient, Everett Moss! Everett is a grad student at Emory University and is studying to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA.) 

Everett Moss @the_paramurse

Nurse Anesthesiology School during these COVID times! I was really looking forward to on campus learning. However, 2020 had different plans. Nursing at any level is truly a journey. I certainly have an atypical nursing journey. Started my career as a firefighter EMT now 2 weeks into a Doctorate of Nursing Practice Nurse Anesthesia Program.Guaranteed to learn a ton on this journey. My future goals are to continue fine tuning my skill set and give back by means of education and community outreach.

Scholarship Finalists 

Katherine Gustavson @mymomcooksrice

By being an EMT I had the option of shotgunning the paramedic/firefighter route. But, there was so much more I wanted to learn and the exposure to the field had me itching for more experience. 

It wasn't until I moved into the Emergency Department that the exposure to these strong and supportive females propelled me into a career that snuck up on me. I had mentors and made friends with those that I worked with. The same friends that had study sessions with me, did my laundry, or helped pick up my room when I was just too overwhelmed with working full time in the ED and going to nursing school.

Starting with my EMT to work through school and obtain my Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) was character development, the experience allowed me to move into the ER as a nurse and continue to learn the ins and outs of trauma. I take every opportunity that comes my way and recognize the privilege of education. Being in my bachelor's program (BSN) right now has opened my eyes to another world of medicine and I hope to continue influencing change in an ever changing industry that includes a booming tech evolution and emerging disaster preparedness.

Laura Saunders @laurasaund19

I’m a sophomore nursing student at Bellin College.Nurses have always been an inspiration to me, because they are kind-hearted, help you feel better, and guide you through your health care journey. I have seen family members in the healthcare field change many lives and that has inspired me to have the same goals. When I was little, I always knew I wanted to make a positive change in people’s lives. Nursing was a profession that allowed me to do exactly that.

Being a nursing student has taught me the importance of communication and that everyone deserves a chance to be heard. My instructors have encouraged communication between our classmates, training us to always be open to new ideas. 

I’ve learned that “nursing is not black and white, it’s grey.” Getting input from others is always a great way to reach an end goal. 

Being able to voice my opinions and explaining my thought process was difficult in the beginning because I’m often shy and keep to myself.

As a nurse, I have 2 goals that I strive to achieve in my future.

  1. To always focus on my education and be adaptable to change. Nursing is a field that is always changing. I’m excited to see the advancements of healthcare in the future, especially as new ideas create easier and safer procedures and techniques for patients and healthcare workers.
  2. Work towards a certification for forensics nursing- a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner). I want to be the person that helps females and males who have gone through traumatic experiences and be a light during a dark time. I have given back by donating clothes to hospitals that have SANE programs. I desire to do more for sexual assault victims in the future.

I’m excited to learn and grow during my nursing journey, inside and outside of school. Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me, pushed me, and helped get me to where I am today.

Nancy Garcia @nan_cia

Your Dreams do not have an expiration date #nursedotorg

My nursing journey started in Guatemala. As a child, I always pretended to be a nurse taking care of my grandpa. At the age of 5, my mother brought me to the States. My mother was a single parent and we went through financial hardships. I grew up seeing my mother working hard to support us. I dreamed of being a doctor, a nurse, or a lawyer. 

But for me, getting an education after high school seemed out of reach. 

  • By age 15, I entered the workforce. 
  • By age 19, I met my husband and got married. 
  • At age 39, my divorce was finalized. 
  • At age 40, I started exerting confidence and believing in my potential. I have the work ethic and discipline to accomplish anything that I set my mind to do regardless of my social economic status. 
  • At age 42, I was accepted to nursing school.

What inspired me to be a nurse? Seeing my grandmother and mother exerting selfless acts of service to others inspired and taught me to be a caretaker. Also, being there for someone I loved through their rehabilitation after being left paralyzed inspired me to want to help and care for others experiencing traumatizing life changing events. I want a career that not only challenges me but also has the potential to make a difference in someone’s life. 

What challenges have I overcome ? I have faced some financial hardships, but I feel blessed to be given the opportunity to be a recipient of some scholarships and financial aid to get me to this point of my nursing journey. Going back to school in my 40’s has been challenging but not impossible . 

What are my future goals? Once I graduate my current nursing program, I plan on furthering my education and obtain my BSN at WSU Vancouver. I want to start working as an RN and continue my education to one day become a Nurse Practitioner. 

What goals would I like to achieve once I get my degree? Study hard to pass the NCLEX and officially become an RN. I would like to start working with geriatrics patients and start fostering care plans to promote overall physical and mental wellness to a deserving population.

Chelsea Texiera @ctexy

When I graduated in 2013 I was going to enter the veterinarian program at OSU. When the time came to enroll, my grandfather had a massive heart attack. He had a complex recovery and my Grandmother needed my live-in support to assist with his caregiving. The entire caregiving experience it gave me, inspired me to switch my major to nursing. 

Since my Grandfather made a full recovery, I relocated from California to Idaho to pursue my educational goal in a more timely and affordable setting. I had been completing my prerequisites from that point on. Unfortunately, because I moved states, some prerequisites had to be retaken. Additionally, I spoke to a guidance counselor and decided to pursue my LPN degree first as it has a faster enrollment date. However, that meant I had to take a few additional classes. 

I am currently working as a certified nursing assistant, with our most vulnerable population.  I have a degree in social sciences and am enrolled in the LPN program. It will take me only one school year to obtain my degree in nursing which will allow me to take the NCLEX exam to obtain my LPN license. Once I have my license I would like to work at Sacred Heart in Washington and continue my education to get my RN.

Tyrescha Blaylock @prettirandom

I remember writing in my journal everyday, praying that I'd get into my first choice in nursing schools and now, here I am! I am officially in my 2nd year of nursing school and let me tell you, THIS IS NOT AN EASY PROCESS! Everyday I am challenged mentally and emotionally, but everyday I am grateful for the opportunity. 

My goal is to become a cardiac or oncology nurse and later return to school to obtain my masters degree. What inspired me to become a nurse was not only seeing how they treated me first hand with my cardiac issues, but also realizing how hands-on they were with their patients. I was also inspired by how flexible the field of nursing is and how it's one job where you are continuously learning something new. 

Outside of Covid happening and having financial issues, some of the challenges I've faced was mentally preparing myself for such a demanding program. Nursing School has become something I eat, sleep and breathe just to keep my GPA up. When they say, “there is no life outside of nursing”, I have found that to be true, but I still try my best to keep in touch with friends when I can. Once I receive my degree, my goal outside of paying back loans is to do something for those who have supported me throughout this journey. Without them, I'm not sure how I would push through nursing school. Through this process I have learned one thing. GOD WILL OPEN DOORS NO MAN CAN CLOSE!

Celeste Thoong @theperksofbeingceleste

The aspiration of becoming a nurse has been one of my biggest dreams practically since I was born. Upon “graduating” kindergarten, I recall telling my grandmother “ I ALREADY GRADUATED KINDERGARTEN!! CAN I BE A NURSE YET?” However, the road to becoming a nursing student was anything but what I imagined. 

Upon struggling with mental health issues and a lack of purpose, I began failing high school. I struggled to even graduate and felt as though I was wasting time not helping others. I shortly began taking college courses wanting to pursue psychology. While taking general courses, I had a medical issue arise that was extremely personal. Through the entirety of my care I was blessed with unbiased, selfless, and even loving care. I then knew I needed to recognize the dreams I’ve been pushing away since kindergarten; to be a nurse. I realized I wanted to make an impact on the well-being of others, even if just for an hour, a day, months, or years. 

Nursing has led me to goals of becoming a nurse-midwife where I can provide comprehensive reproductive care to all women. My ultimate goal in life is to own a birthing center in which all race, gender, and sexual orientation are welcomed. I plan to begin these dreams by becoming a labor and delivery nurse in birthing centers impacting each family at a time.

Wali Khan @wali_khann

What inspired you to become a nurse? ⁣

My nursing journey began over 10 years ago and I am still here in pursuit of what I love most. Im often asked, why go through all this when I could just have gone to medical school and became a physician. The answer is simple: personal conviction. Nursing teaches you mindfulness, humility, and gratitude. Nothing in life remains at a standstill and medicine is no different. I wanted to be part of a profession that is ever changing and devoted to the preservation of life and human wellness. ⁣

What challenges have you overcome? ⁣

The culmination of everything I have ever done and experienced in my life has led me to where I stand today. My parents didn’t go to college, I have no doctors in my family, in fact, I am the first to to not only graduate college, but also pursue a career in healthcare. Like so many others who came to this country as immigrants, there were never any handouts and never a shortcut taken. In 2014, an injury in my back almost caused irreversible nerve damage. I underwent two consecutive spinal surgeries and almost lost my ability to walk. My surgeries and rehab delayed the start of my career and prevented me from keeping with my graduating cohort. ⁣

What goals would you like to achieve once you get your degree? ⁣

I can still recall the most frightening moments during the day of my surgery. They were the moments leading up to the OR as I lay in pre-op waiting for the anesthesiologists. Naturally, my anxiety and fear raised so many questions concerning the surgery. Will I wake up? Will I feel the surgeon "sawing" my bones? I could feel my heart in my throat. Just as I had so many questions, it goes without saying that our patients do as well. As I endured, found hope and fought to get my life back, I am now able to kindle that familiar hope and promise for my patients. Through this experience, I learned of strength and tenacity that comes only when you surpass and overcome all odds. As a future CRNA, I want to be that beacon of hope and assurance for my patients as they prepare to face their worst fears and anxieties. I also plan to teach as an adjunct professor.


Wali Khan is a Chicago based trauma resuscitation & ICU nurse in one of the busiest level one trauma centers in the country and a first year doctoral nurse anesthesia  student. His writing entails a powerful narrative and perspective on the balance between faith and medicine. Passionate about nursing, faith, community service, he uses his voice on social media to highlight the intersection between the three. He is active as a mentor for young adults in his local community and social media.

Marina Tedesco @Marina_Leigh_


This is an honest picture of me after a particularly long clinical we had at the hospital this term. I had been up since 5am (it was now almost 4pm) and I was hungry, tired, but not at all bothered by any of it. Despite the long hours, I got to experience what life will be like as a nurse, but most importantly, I got the privilege of taking care of my patient to the best of my abilities.

My #nursingjourney began with a CNA class in 2017 -2018 that completely changed my outlook on what I could potentially do to help someone else. I started it out thinking maybe I'd learn something cool, and possibly be able to get a job out of it. But a year later, I left the class knowing I'd found my calling 💕 All of the small things I learned there, how to bathe, feed, even ambulate a patient gave me the most profound feeling that I was making a difference in the lives of others. And I didn't want to stop there.

In 2019 I got accepted into and began nursing school and so far, it's been a roller coaster! I have spent hours studying and stressing over exams, and even more time in clinicals caring for others as I would my own family. Every term that goes by for us (we are almost done with #4, 2 more to go!!) I am that much more sure of my choice to be the person who will sit with you, cry with you, care for you, and be your advocate for as long as you are in my care.

March 2021 is my expected graduation date and oh my is it getting close! Sometimes I am afraid of the idea that the training wheels will be off, but looking back on where I started the journey in 2017, I am reminded that I can do this. I am so excited to see what the future has in store for me once I have RN after my name 👩‍⚕️💕 The two goals I have for myself are... To be better than I was yesterday and to care for my patients with as much compassion as I would want to be cared for myself. 

How They were Selected

The finalists submitted their stories to our #nursedotorg scholarship campaign on Instagram. From there,’s panel selected these nursing students and grad students as finalists! We enlisted the help of our online community of over millions of nurses to help select the recipient of the $1000 Healthcare Leaders scholarship for the year 2020. 

More Scholarships Coming Soon! 


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