Foundation awards 76 students with $200 for healthcare license examsMay 22, 2020
Students in the Health Sciences programs at Rockingham Community College are unlike students in many of the other programs.
“They’re not your typical 19-year-olds or just out of high school. They are 30-year-old students coming back to school, working, and raising families. Life is happening to them, big time,” said Vickie Chitwood, associate professor and dean of Health Sciences and Public Service Technologies.
“And the last semester of their program is the hardest, with so many costs,” she said. Not only must they cover tuition, but also board exams that cost $190 to $400, and licensing exams, which are $300. “We urge them to take their exams as soon as possible, while the information is fresh. Many wait to take the tests because of the money,” she added.
Across campus from the Owens Health Sciences building, Sheila Regan, vice president for Academic Affairs, was working with deans and college administrators and having discussions with peers and the N.C. Community College System, trying to find ways to keep students from slipping through the college’s fingers as COVID-19 restricted them from campus and pushed them into online classrooms.
For Health Sciences students, face-to-face instruction continued five days a week. Their 12-hour clinical days, however, shifted online.
“The final semester is hard enough, but then when COVID-19 happened, a lot of them lost their jobs. They were struggling,” Chitwood said of the Health Sciences students. One Surgical Technology student dropped out as she waited on her unemployment check to pay tuition. Others suddenly had to figure out how to accommodate their children being schooled at home.
Regan and Chitwood approached the RCC Foundation with an idea. While the Foundation awards an enormous amount of scholarships to students each year, it also funds grants for various programs across campus. Regan had realized that not all of the grant money for 2019-20 academic year had been used, and asked the Foundation if it could be switched over to help Health Sciences students pay for their board and licensing exams.
“Vickie and Sheila came to me and said 76 students had been displaced, and asked if there was anything the Foundation could do to help pay for their licensure exams,” said RCC Foundation Executive Director Kim Pryor.
The Foundation awarded $200 to each of the 76 Health Sciences students.
According to Interim Nursing Program Director Anita Manning, this semester was the first time every single Nursing student signed up to take their tests immediately, Chitwood said. Four students took the Nursing exam and four took the Respiratory Therapy exam, all passing on their first try, within 10 days of graduating from the program.
Many Health Sciences students expressed their gratitude for the unexpected financial boost.
“I wanted to take a moment to send a heartfelt ‘thank you.’ When starting this semester, I can say I never thought this is the way it would close. Although different, it has allowed some time to reflect to see how grateful we should be,” said Nursing graduate Dawn Corum of Reidsville. “Sometimes it is the things such as having the ability to sit in class and see your classmates and sometimes it comes in blessings called grants. Thank you all from the bottom my heart in helping get one step closer.”
Nursing graduate Tiffany S. Easter of Ruffin, said, “This will go a long way in helping me to achieve my dream. Things have not been ideal this semester but I will be forever grateful for the support that I have received from RCC on this journey. Thank you again.”
Eden Respiratory Therapy graduate Tiffany Kingston also said she is honored to receive the grant and was thankful for the generous award.
And Chitwood can surely imagine the impact of the grant for each of the students.
“I was a healthcare worker who returned to school when I was 30, and I struggled… oh, I struggled. So I know where they’ve been, where they are now,” she said. “Every Nursing, Respiratory Therapy and Surg Tech faculty and staff member is so grateful, so thankful to the Foundation for allowing this to happen, and to Sheila Regan for making it happen.”