Five nursing students currently enrolled at Northampton Community College (NCC) were awarded $1,000 Highmark Blue Shield Frontline Worker Scholarships for the 2021-2022 school year. The students are all entering their final semester of college and anticipate graduating this winter as registered nurses (RN).
“Highmark is proud to support the bright futures of these soon-to-be frontline caregivers,” shared Vice President of Community Affairs for Highmark Blue Shield Kathleen McKenzie. “We will always hold those who answer the calling to serve and care for others to the highest regard, and we cannot thank them enough for choosing such a noble profession.”
The students awarded are Frank Ascione III, Lauren Stack, Matthew Turner, Stacy Long, and Liz Salvadore.
Frank Ascione III balances work with his classes on nights and weekends in the nursing program. He remembers a moment of pride during his time at NCC.
“Prior to the start of nursing school, I was terrified of wound care, simply because I didn’t know how I would react. On my first clinical day in the hospital, my instructor assigned me to change the dressing on a wound that was so deep the bone was exposed. I thought to myself, ‘This is it. This is going to end my nursing career before it even starts. I’ll never get through this.’ Well, I did. With the help of my amazing clinical instructor, I not only got through the assignment, but found it incredibly interesting. When it was finished, I was beaming with a new confidence that has stayed with me throughout the program.”
Ascione intends to start working in nursing right after graduating. He plans to enroll in an RN to BSN or RN to MSN program to further his education after NCC.
Lauren Stack wanted to pursue a career where she’d be directly involved in caring for people, and with her strong interest in health and medicine, nursing seemed like a perfect fit for her.
“Back when I was in high school, my dad was diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer. It has been a chronic battle that he has been facing every day for years and will be something he has to deal with for the rest of his life.” Throughout the years, Stack’s family has spent a lot of time at the hospital for her father’s surgeries. “While being there, I was able to observe the noble work these nurses were doing day in and day out. It was then that I decided I wanted to pursue the nursing field.”
Stack’s decision to come to NCC was motivated by all the college offered. “The college offered a great clinical experience by pairing up with well-respected hospitals in the area, provided a lot of support and resources to students, especially in the first semester, and had an awesome NCLEX passing rate from previous graduating classes.”
Short-term, Stack would like to work at Morristown Medical Center on the orthopedic trauma/spine floor, where she currently works as a nursing assistant. Her long-term goal is to become a travel nurse.
Matthew Turner was a psychiatric social worker before starting a career in clinical research. He enjoyed the research process, but always felt called to be in a setting that let him work with patients directly. After a personal health challenge a few years ago, he decided that it was time to embrace a new career.
“Nursing was the perfect fit because it combines my values with science in settings that improve people’s lives.” When he came to NCC, he connected with a nursing support specialist to develop organizational and test-taking skills. He attributes his success in classes and clinical settings to the support the specialist provided him.
Turner plans to work for a hospital that offers great opportunities for training and different areas of practice. “I can see myself being closely involved in critical care, pediatrics, or patient education.”
Stacy Long spent a decade as a guidance counselor. She always had an interest in becoming a nurse but never had the confidence that she could be successful with the rigorous course requirements. About a year after having her daughter, she decided to go for it.
“I want her [my daughter] to grow up and do whatever she wants to do, no matter how challenging it may seem. NCC has exceeded all my expectations. I have both a bachelor’s and master’s degree but neither has challenged me more academically than earning my ADN at NCC. The faculty set their expectations high, but they are also there to provide support and mentorship. I believe I have the tools I need to be successful.”
Long plans to pursue a position in an Emergency Department, which she feels will be a great opportunity for her to learn a variety of different skills.
Liz Salvadore currently works as a medical assistant at Lehigh Valley Health Network while she’s attending NCC. She was motivated to become a nurse when she witnessed a patient go into cardiac arrest and saw nurses skillfully save the patient. “I was so inspired by their confidence and fearlessness that I started taking pre-requisites to get into the program right away.”
After coming to study at NCC, Salvadore considers her professors, classmates and the rest of the nursing staff her home. She plans to work as a nurse in critical care upon graduating NCC. “I was fortunate enough to spend a day in the NICU during clinicals last semester, and it was truly life-changing. This semester, I’m very excited to spend time in the ICU.”
Mary Jean Osborne, director of the nursing program at NCC, stated, “At this critical time in healthcare as our profession navigates a nationwide nursing shortage, associate degree graduates are critical to the pipeline of front-line providers. We are most grateful to Highmark Blue Shield for recognizing the value of our graduates and supporting them on their pathway to the profession.”
The Northampton scholarships mark the fourth installment in a series of Frontline Worker Grants to support current college students pursuing careers in healthcare. The NCC Foundation gratefully acknowledges the donor who established the Highmark Blue Shield Frontline Worker Grant to support Northampton Community College nursing students.