Kaiser Permanente Northern California awards nearly $300,000 to nursing students through the Deloras Jones Registered Nurse Scholarship Program. (Pictured above, Angelina Farias and her daughter, Eliana, pose with Deloras Jones at the scholarship reception in Oakland.)
The journey to becoming a registered nurse has not been easy for Angelina Farias.
The 24-year-old junior at Dominican University in San Rafael is a first-generation college student and the mother of a 3-year-old child. She started her studies at a community college to save money and she finances her education with the help of a merit scholarship, Pell Grant, and student loans. She also works two jobs to cover her remaining expenses.
But last month, she and 146 other nursing students in Northern California got some welcome help from Kaiser Permanente. The students each received $1,000 to $3,000 from the Deloras Jones Registered Nurse Scholarship Program, which promotes academic excellence and diversity in the nursing profession. Most of the students have earned a grade point average of 3.8 or above.
The scholarship, which is funded by Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit, is awarded to students who demonstrate financial need and are working toward associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level nursing degrees.
Farias said she’ll use her scholarship to help pay for tuition.
“A thousand dollars may not sound like a lot, but for me, it’s huge,” she said. “That’s a thousand dollars I don’t need to come up with myself.”
Helping Thousands of Nursing Students
Since the Deloras Jones scholarship was established 15 years ago, more than 2,000 students in Northern and Southern California have received awards adding up to more than $4 million.
Nikki West, who helps to manage the scholarship program for Kaiser Permanente Northern California, said the scholarships are part of the organization’s commitment to the community.
“This is about helping to create a supply of well-educated nurses to work in the community,” she said. “It’s also part of our efforts to ensure that the health care workforce reflects the great diversity of the communities we serve.”
An Advocate for Nurse Leadership and Education
The scholarship is named after Deloras Jones, RN, who retired from Kaiser Permanente in 2000 after serving as senior nurse executive for what are now the Northern and Southern California regions. Jones graduated from the Kaiser Foundation School of Nursing, which closed in 1976, and went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing. During her long career at Kaiser Permanente she was a strong advocate for nurse leadership and for continuing education for nurses.
At the Northern California awards reception last month in Oakland, Jones met and posed for photographs with dozens of award recipients and their families. She said meeting the students and hearing their stories gives her hope.
“These students are intelligent, deeply committed to nursing, and many of them mentioned that receiving the scholarship has inspired them to give back to the community,” Jones said. “There are a number of students who plan to go on to become nurse practitioners, who want to work in community clinics, or return to work in the medically underserved communities where they were raised.”
‘I Want to Be an Inspiration’
Angelina Farias came to the awards reception with her 3-year-old daughter, mother, and grandmother. She said she was inspired to pursue a career in nursing after visiting her grandparents in the hospital and observing how caring the nurses were toward them.
“There was one Hispanic nurse, and I thought it was so amazing,” she said. “I thought ‘That nurse is like me. I can do that. I can be just like her.’”
Farias said her nursing classes are tough, but she feels motivated to push hard to do well.
“I want to be an inspiration to my community and to my daughter. I want her to know that even if something is difficult, you can do it if you set your mind to it.”
Members of the community can apply for the Deloras Jones Nurse Scholarship beginning in May 2017. While this scholarship is not open to current Kaiser Permanente employees, Kaiser Permanente nurses who are interested in advancing their education can visit the Kaiser Permanente Nurse Scholars Academy website and the Education Assistance and Tuition Reimbursement page on My HR for information and opportunities.