Bachelor of Science Nursing Loan Repayment Program, 2017-2018
Associate Degree Nursing Scholarship Program, 2011
San Bernardino, CA
My name is Jessica Vargas and I received the Bachelor of Science Nursing Loan Repayment Program (BSNLRP) in 2017. I am 30-year-old fulltime mother to a 3-year-old little boy, a full time Intensive Care Unit Registered Nurse, and a full-time student pursuing my Master of Science Nursing (MSN)/Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) degree. I do not have any friends or family members who graduated high school, let alone in the medical field. The desire to pursue healthcare was, I guess you can say, my calling. I have always loved science and am a sucker for helping anyone in need, so nursing was it for me, no question.
Being brought up in a single parent, poor household, I qualified for financial aid, but after becoming an RN, I struggled to find opportunities for financial assistance to support my education. I worked full time during nursing school to help pay my education costs, because financial aid only covered so much. Like so many others, I needed more financial assistance for books and school supplies. I found the Health Professions Education Foundation (HPEF) on my own because I looked for it when I needed help the most. I applied and, by the grace of God, was awarded through the Associate Degree Nursing Scholarship Program (ADNSP). I then pursued a Bachelor of Science Nursing degree, but was hesitant because I did not want the burden of educational debt. My hunger for knowledge of my profession convinced me to go back anyway. I completed my BSN, applied for the BSNLRP, and, again with God’s grace behind me, was awarded my second HPEF award.
I worked for the California Department of Corrections for two years for my ADN award, and I currently work at Riverside Community Hospital in the Medical Intensive Care Unit. With the funding from HPEF I can pay down my loans, afford living expenses for my son and myself, and provide my son with day care, early education. Working in poverty-stricken areas makes one realize that our health cannot be taken for granted, and people are not willfully non-compliant, but often do not understand or cannot afford prescribed medication. I feel knowing this makes me a better nurse, because I can empathize, educate, and, in my future FNP practice, be more resourceful by connecting my patients to affordable and quality care.
We in the healthcare profession love being asked questions and feeling that patients are genuinely interested in caring for themselves. In turn, we learn from patients about how to be better educators and communicators, and improve our system of care. It is vital for people to know that illness does not mean disability and nothing, but themselves, can stop them from being healthy. Most importantly, I would like to convey to the community the power of the act of kindness. We don’t know who will be taking care of us when we are in need, so be kind to one another.