Golden Valley Health Centers is seeking students enrolled in, or accepted into, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse or bachelor of science in nursing programs to apply for the Flora R. Martinez scholarship. A total of $25,000 in scholarships, distributed as $5,000 to each selected recipient, will be awarded.
“Nursing is a great career offering lifelong learning and lifelong employment opportunities,’’ said Tony Weber, president and CEO of the not-for-profit GVHC. “This scholarship program demonstrates our commitment to cultivating a strong workforce from the talent in our own communities. We know the need for skilled nurses is going to continue and hope that these students might consider GVHC when looking for a place to work.”
Ana Veloz was a 2023 recipient of this scholarship. The Atwater native is in her final year of nursing school at California State University, Stanislaus.
“I am a first-generation college student. My sister’s actually a registered nurse, as well, so she kinda took the nursing route before me,” Veloz said. “I was about to start my last year of nursing school and I didn’t know how I’m gonna be able to afford all this. So I heard about the opportunity and I applied. Thank God that I received it. I was so grateful.”
Veloz is currently doing an internship in the emergency department at Memorial Medical Center. She said she plans to stay in the region. “I grew up in the Central Valley, and I see that there’s such a need for bilingual nurses. I just noticed (there are) not a lot of Spanish-speaking nurses in the ER,” she said.
She plans to become a nurse in an emergency department and maybe go into healthcare education in the future. Veloz offered advice to prospective scholarship applicants: “If you’re contemplating applying, go into depth on your personal insight questions. Tell them what you’re gonna use the money for and why you’re so passionate about nursing.”
Because the demand for skilled nurses in the Central Valley is so great, Golden Valley Health Centers has awarded 35 scholarships since its inception in 2014.
Vice President and Chief Communications Officer Amy Collier Carroll said, “There is an enormous demand for nurses in the Valley and across the state. California Primary Care Association reports a projected shortfall over the next decade in this state that reflects the need for more than 4,000 primary care providers, 44,000 nurses and 15,000 behavioral health providers. The Central Valley is an area considered a health care desert, so the need is dire here.”
The application period opened Feb. 1 and ends March 31. Students must reside in Stanislaus, Merced or San Joaquin counties, be enrolled or accepted in an RN, LVN or BSN program (CNA and FNP are not eligible), maintain a 3.0 gpa or higher in the last four completed high school or college semesters and submit the application with documentation and signature by the deadline. Candidates will also be asked to write a letter describing their career goals and why they are pursuing nursing. To apply and for full details, please visit www.gvhc.org/foundation/scholarships.
“Our review panel is mainly looking for people who are rooted in our community and care deeply about improving the health and well-being of our community,” Carroll told The Bee. “We are always thinking about diversity, as we serve a diverse community and we want the workforce to reflect the populations we care for.”
There is no requirement that a scholarship recipient goes to work for GVHC after graduation, she said, “and we do not incentivize the award winners, but we hope they would consider a career at our clinics.”