Friday, October 28, 2016 2:45 PM

Growing our workforce with scholarships

To help employees develop their skills and grow their careers, Community Medical Centers awards annual scholarships made possible by our generous donors. This year, 33 employees were selected by Community’s Nurse Scholarship Committee to receive funding help to continue their education. Scholarships were handed out at an event held last week at Clovis Community Medical Center’s Marcus H. Radin Conference Center and attended by recipients and their family, senior leaders and donors.
Chief Clinical Integration Officer and event host Wanda Holderman said it best: “Community is growing as fast as we can to keep up with the healthcare needs of Valley families. To keep up with the challenges ahead it’s important we grow our employees with us.”  These scholarships are vital to helping us achieve just that!  And because nurses make up almost half of our workforce, we can grow nurse leaders and help many of our staff to become nurses – the backbone of our healthcare system.
We’re thankful these scholarships not only help grow our workforce, but give us a competitive edge – helping to retain and attract new talent, and be the employer of choice in the region. I hope that we can continue to grow this program and create more scholarships in the future, not just for nurses but for many of our talented staff. Philanthropy will be the key to making that possible, finding donors who are inspired by our amazing staff and their stories.
Here are the 2016 Nurse Scholarship Award recipients by donor category:
Alice A. Peters Nursing Scholarships – 

S. Kenneth “Butch” Peters, Alice A. Peters Nursing Scholarships.

This scholarship goes to nurse supervisors, managers or directors working on a Bachelors, Masters or Doctorate. The three lucky recipients are:

  1. Kathryn Kawaguchi, director of nursing administration at Clovis Community, who is completing her BSN. Kathryn has been with Community eight years and represents Clovis on the Chief Nursing Officer’s council. She’s currently working to integrate nursing teams for better patient flow in the hospital. She wrote: “The nursing profession has been a lifelong part of who I am. It has molded my character and soul.”

  2. Samantha Roberts, interim clinical supervisor of Community Regional’s Nurse Float Team, is finishing her MSN in health systems management.  Samantha has been with Community since 2012 and currently co-chairs the team working to optimize use of OptiLink a patient classification IT system with Kronos our staffing scheduling system.  Samantha is also working on her national Nurse Executive certification.

  3. Seth Durant, interim manager of the cardiovascular unit at Community Regional, is completing his BSN. Seth has been with Community for 17 years, but has worked in healthcare since he was 16 years old when he began volunteering at the Veteran’s hospital. He’s fluent in Spanish from his missionary work in Mexico so he can step in to interpret with patients. He says he “loves being a registered nurse and enjoys the challenge of helping people heal and helping hospitals have the best outcomes possible.” 

Alice A. Peters Student Scholarships – 

S. Kenneth “Butch” Peters, Alice A. Peters Nursing Scholarships.

Five employees are recipients of a $3,000 student scholarship, available to any Community employee currently enrolled in a nursing program for at least three semesters. This year’s scholarship winners are:

  1. Cassandra Gonzalez, an extern in the nursing administrative float team at Clovis Community. She’s been called an “all-star” by her supervisor for her high work ethic and the positive influence she has on her team.

  2. Jessica Henderson, a patient care assistant in rehab at Community Regional. Jessica has been with us 15 years and wants to become a nurse. Her co-workers say her positive disposition and an easy going nature makes her a pleasure to work with.

  3. Jessica Martin, an emergency department extern at Community Regional gets high praise from Dr. Gen who says, “Jessica has an ability to change patient's attitudes from anger to happiness and satisfaction. Because of this attribute, her co-workers often ask her to help them in dealing with complicated patients.”

  4. Rabina Lally, an extern in our nursing administrative team at Clovis Community, is the Vice President of the California Nursing Student Association at Fresno State. Her mentors here say she’s “dedicated, driven, hard-working and passionate about her profession.”

  5. Maria Colin, an extern in our nursing administrative float team at Clovis Community, works in six very different areas in the hospital. Her supervisor Krystal Pombo says, "Maria has assisted with teaching mock code and will be leading EKGs this year. She is seen as a ‘go to’ within the team." 

Helen Madeline Hanus Scholarship – 

The Helen Madeline Hanus Scholarship was donated anonymously to specifically help our hard-working patient care assistants further their education. The scholarship was named after this donor’s mother as a way to remember her and to honor the kind PCAs that took care of her during her last days. Recipients must be Community PCAs enrolled in a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral program. Congratulations to our seven PCA scholarship winners:

  1. Markos Bogie, is attending Fresno City College to become an RN and wants to go on to get a BSN and then a master’s in nursing. Markos describes the role of PCA this way: “It means being there for patients in their worst time, helping patients in their daily activity they used to do before hospitalization. It means helping patients to regain their independence.”

  2. Lee Xiong, a PCA at Community Regional on the 1 East medical surgical floor, is working to become a licensed vocational nurse at Clovis Adult Education School. She wants to use that LVN as a stepping stone to an RN degree. Lee wrote in her application that she sees each patient as “an individual with a fascinating life story” and takes great joy in getting difficult patients to engage and get up and try again.

  3. Jessica Schnell, works in the emergency department at Community Regional and has been a PCA with us for 17 years, first getting hired at UMC. Jessica says she feels like she’s not only there to assist patients but also nurses, doctors, respiratory therapist, social workers and lab techs to ensure a smooth flow in the ED.

  4. Magen Green, works in medical/surgical at Community Regional and is finishing her LVN work at Clovis Adult Education School. Her hope is to one day become a nurse practitioner. She says she loves “that the medical world is constantly changing, updating, and revising.” She wrote: “I have a passion and desire to know more, to do more. I want to impact lives and serve the community.”

  5. Breann Jacobson, works in the ICU at Clovis and is finishing her RN work at Fresno City College. She wrote in her application that she loves her job because it allows her to, “be there to help someone when they are at their worst and help them get through their rough spot, as well as reassuring family members that we are doing everything in our power to help their loved one and offer them a means of comfort and support.”

  6. Baljinder Kaur, a PCA in the cardiovascular unit at Community Regional. She is a single mom working on becoming an LVN at Gurnick Academy. Baljinder says “being a PCA is more than a job because she loves taking care of people.”

  7. Brianna Watson, a PCA in labor and delivery at Clovis Community. Brianna is working on becoming an RN at National University. She says she tries to “Let kindness, a joyful heart and a sympathetic soul be absolutely contagious.”

Annette La Rue Nursing Education Scholarship - 

The Annette La Rue Nursing Education Scholarship – named for The Honorable Annette La Rue, the first women admitted to the Fresno BAR Association and the first women to be elected as a Superior Court Judge in Fresno. Judge La Rue’s gift is helping us address the shortage of qualified nurses in our region. The three recipients are:  

  1. Kelli S. Teare, a clinical nurse III at Clovis Community does pre-operative education for patients. She’s been with Community eight years and was instrumental in helping develop the employee recognition STAR of the month program. She also developed a process for providing immunizations that improves patient flow and increases physician satisfaction for the Splenectomy procedure.

  2. Leslie Fineza, a clinical nurse II at Clovis Community and is a versatile nurse with 10-years of Community experience who floats to five different units and roles. Leslie serves as a lead actively mentoring externs and new hires.

  3. Maybo Heu, a clinical nurse II in oncology at Community Regional, became a nurse because of family health issues early on in her life. Maybo is committed to bridging the cultural gap between her Hmong culture and western medical practices.  Educating a culture that is unfamiliar to western medicine is a huge task but says her “drive and passion makes a big impact in other people's lives.”

Rajani Family NICU Education Advancement Scholarship -

Rajani Family NICU Education Advancement Scholarship .

The Rajani Family NICU Education Advancement Scholarship, established four years ago, is designed to encourage our neonatal intensive care staff to pursue advanced education and leadership specifically in our growing neonatal intensive care units. Applicants for this scholarship must either be working in one of our NICUs or working toward a NICU-required certification with the hopes of transferring to our NICU.  Congratulations to four winners:

  1. Harlan Husted, a pharmacist at Community, has a long interest in pediatrics and particularly in doing research on how pharmacology affects our tiniest patients. He notes that neonates are often excluded from large clinical studies. He’s pursuing a master’s in business administration at Fresno State with hopes of continuing in a leadership role as we grow our pediatric services at Community.

  2. Amanda Temple, is finishing her BSN at Fresno State and has worked in our neuro ICU and burn ICU and cardiac step down units. She’s an extern in the NICU and hopes to become qualified to attend deliveries of our high-risk babies. She says “it would be a dream come true to be able to provide care to a neonate extra-urtero.”

  3. Eve Xiong, a unit clerk in our NICU for the past five years at Community Regional, has long dreamed of becoming a NICU nurse. “I’ve already grown roots that I plan to water and nurture” she says. She promises to “Make education and service to others my top priority.”

  4. Valerie Fillmore, a member of Clovis Community’s NICU nursing staff, has had the opportunity to be a charge nurse and work with our night nursing supervisor. She gets high praise for her mentors as being “calm, cool and collected in chaotic situations” and repeatedly demonstrated true leadership skills. Valerie is thankful this scholarship will help her finish her degree. 

Marilyn Hawkins Nursing Leadership Scholarship - 

The Marilyn Hawkins Nursing Leadership Scholarship, named after a beloved Chief Nurse Executive and Senior Vice President, provided exceptional leadership during the 1980s and 90s at Community. After Marilyn’s death in November 1999, it seemed only fitting that we carry on her legacy by encouraging other nurse leaders to follow in her footsteps. Four accomplished nurse leaders are recipients of this award:

  1. Kathryn Kawaguchi gets some additional help in finishing that master’s degree and a little nudge to follow in Marilyn Hawkins’ footsteps.

  2. Samantha Roberts will use this scholarship towards a master’s degree. She’s on the membership engagement committee of the Association of California Nurse Leaders, bringing her skills to venues outside of Community.

  3. Valerie Fillmore, a NICU nurse at Community Regional, is another master’s degree scholarship recipient. Valerie has been with Community 15 years and is an instructor in our neonatal resuscitation program and was integral in helping us develop the NICU at Clovis.

  4. Victoria Jackson, a master’s degree scholarship recipient is a nurse in Fresno Heart & Surgical’s telemetry department. She’s a presenter at the hospital’s annual skills fair and made the progression from clinical nurse I to clinical nurse II in half the time it normally takes.

Gerald and Nanette Lyles Nursing Scholarship -

This is the third year Gerald and Nanette Lyles have also generously provided scholarships for our employees who are finishing their nursing education. It’s reserved for those who are already working at Community who want to grow their careers with us. This year we have 7 recipients who will be getting $3,000 each to help them become our next new nurses. Our winners are:

  1. Marisol Rocha, a member of the Community Regional float team has been a Community employee for the past 12 years and has a perfect 4.0 grade point average. She’s been assigned as a primary preceptor to many of our new graduates on the Float team. This scholarship will help her finish her BSN.

  2. Cassandra Gonzalez, is getting an additional scholarship to encourage her to continue spreading her sunny, can-do attitude among her team.

  3. Jessica Henderson, our longtime rehab employee will get more help to become a nurse. Congratulations Jessica.

  4. Jessica Martin, is also getting a second scholarship. She’s got a tough externship in one of the busiest emergency rooms in California, handling trauma and burn cases.

  5. Kellie S. Teare, an 8-year Community employee, receives this second scholarship to finish her degree. Kellie was recognized in April for outstanding performance in clinical excellence from the Quality Patient Safety Committee.

  6. Maria Colin, a float team extern who is getting additional funds to finish that nursing degree. She has really stepped up to assist her team this year.

  7. Rabina Lally, who has been with us a year at Clovis, receives an additional scholarship to follow her nursing passion. We hope it continues to serve our Valley patients and their families with us. 

Congratulations to all of our scholarship recipients. We look forward to hearing about your growth and successes in the future.  
You can help me celebrate these scholars and thank our donors by writing a note in the comments and sharing this blog. If you’re inspired by these employees, you too, can apply for a scholarship next May and June. Look for the scholarship application announcement in your email and on the Forum. Notifications will go out to our nursing leadership, managers and supervisors well in advance of next year’s event. 

If you’re interested in learning about ways you can contribute to this worthwhile philanthropy, or would like to be on the notification list, please feel free to email me directly at
Click here to see all photos from the event.

Alex Perez
Development Foundation