Supporting future nurses, teachers

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By Kirsten Laskey

Everyone’s career has some type of significance; whether it is a trash collector who ensures neighborhoods and city streets remain sanitary and clean or a police officer who maintains everyone’s safety. From the long list of potential occupations to support through a scholarship, Steve and Barbara Stoddard selected two – teaching and nursing.

The Stoddard scholarship, which has been offered to nursing and teaching students since 2004, awards $1,000 to qualified high school students who attend Los Alamos High School, Pojoaque High School, McCurdy School, Jemez Valley High School, Espaola Valley High School and equivalent home-schooled seniors.

The scholarship is funded through private funds.

The scholarships are also renewable for recipients’ second year of college. To receive a scholarship, students fill out an application, write an essay about why they chose one of these two fields and participate in an interview with a small committee.

This year’s recipients include Danielle Christensen, a Los Alamos High School graduate, Sarah Wyman, a Los Alamos High School graduate, Jacklynn Duran, a student at the University of New Mexico, and Melissa Weber, who graduated from University of New Mexico with a Bachelors of Science in nursing.

After hearing she had received the scholarship, Christensen said, “I was so excited just because I knew it was open to so many people. I was just excited they picked me.

“I’m so grateful that they picked me and it’s so nice of (the Stoddards) to do this.”

Christensen will be pursing nursing at the New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. She explained she selected a career in the medical field after working as a junior volunteer at the Los Alamos Medical Center, which she has done since her sophomore year.

Christensen said she really likes the adrenaline rush she gets when an emergency occurs. She plans to go into a specialized field of nursing.

Getting the scholarship will be big help in achieving this goal, Christensen said. Having extra money to pay for college is great, she said.

Weber is also working in the nursing field. She said she started out a pre-med major but discovered she had a passion for nursing. Weber said she was attracted to nursing because it is more patient-centered. Earning the scholarship, she said, “It’s really special for me, of course with the financial aspect, (but) it is really a show of support from the community.”

Weber is currently working at the UNM hospital, she said she plans to stay in New Mexico and work in Albuquerque.

While Weber has completed her education, Duran is just getting started.

When she received the scholarship, “I was surprised,” she said. “I met with Barb and she is such a nice lady and I felt very grateful to her.”

At college, Duran said she plans to get a degree in surgerical technology and minor in Spanish. Eventually, she would like to work in pediatrics.

“It’s just something I always wanted to do,” Duran said. “It just seems like such a rewarding career.”

Barbara Stoddard said the scholarship focuses solely on nursing and teaching from personal experience. One of her daughters is a RN so “from our own experience, there is a dire need for nurses in the state and a dire need for teachers.”

The scholarship is available to students at UNM and NMSU to keep more teachers and nurses in the state.

Barbara Stoddard said she would encourage students to apply for the scholarship because “It will give them a little bit of a boost.” While $1,000 may not cover a large chunk of college expenses, it does help, she said.

Barbara said they have been pleased with the quality of candidates in the past. “We have had some wonderful candidates.”