Marine Corps scholarship helping student fulfill dream of being a nurse
Pam Jones, an Athens Technical College student who is transforming the impact of a horrific family accident into pursuing her dream to become a nurse, recently won a $5,000 award from the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation to help her pursue that career goal.
The nonprofit organization Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation (MCSF) offers needs-based educational scholarships to children of Marines. The organization marks its 50th anniversary this year.
In 2010, Ms. Jones and her family watched what had been a perfect Christmas holiday turn into a nightmare when a hot stove eye ignited her husband’s clothing, severely burning him and sending him to the burn clinic at Doctors Hospital in Augusta for several months. His total recuperation, including regular trips from home to the hospital, took almost year.
During the time of her husband’s treatment and healing, Ms. Jones’ role in helping treat her husband’s wounds revived her childhood hopes of becoming a nurse.
“I had dreamed of becoming a nurse for more than 20 years, but I had pushed my dream aside as I raised my three children and ran an antiques shop next door to my husband’s hardware store,” Ms. Jones said. “When my children were grown, I thought I was too old to follow my dream, but the dream still endured in my heart.”
Hospital staff members at the burn clinic provided her hands-on training about how to treat burn wounds, and they were impressed with her learning ability and the talent she demonstrated for nursing care. They asked if she had ever considered nursing as a career, and she responded that she had harbored that desire for some time.
“They encouraged me to find the best college I could and to get my nursing degree and come back to work with them,” Ms. Jones stated. “Nursing friends told me Athens Tech was the best nursing school around, and that is how I ended up at Athens Tech. I became a college student for the first time at age 55.”
In order to devote time to her college studies, Ms. Jones closed her antique shop and sold the inventory to help cover her tuition. That money ran out in August of 2012, so the MCSF award comes at an opportune time, she said.
Ms. Jones expects to fulfill requirements for her Healthcare Science certificate by summer of next year. In February, she plans to apply for the Nursing program and enroll in the program fall semester 2014.
The MCSF benefits children of Marines who are serving active duty, or who have been honorably discharged, wounded, or killed. Scholarship recipients must have a GPA of 2.0 or above, attend an accredited post-secondary school such as a university or technical college, and demonstrate financial need.
“We are an ‘eligibility’ based scholarship and are not competitive,” Jeanna Adams, assistant director for Scholarship Programs with the MCSF, wrote in an email. “If an applicant applies and is eligible and submits a complete application, then he or she will be awarded something. Each recipient is eligible for four paid awards.”
The application included writing an essay on what the Marines have meant to the applicant’s family and what the applicant’s goals are regarding education and a career. Ms. Jones also had to collect various documents ranging from her birth certificate, to her marriage license, and her father’s honorable discharge papers from the Marines during the Korean War.
Ms. Jones’ father died in March, 2012. The MCSF scholarship will help honor his memory and military service, she said.
“I am so proud of my daddy's service to our country, and I feel like he is still helping me from his new home in heaven,” Ms. Jones said. “I want to honor him in making the very best grades I can.”