The coalition, which addresses racial inequities and lack of BIPOC representation in the healthcare industry, awarded $2,000 to four nurses to cover education and advancement costs in their pursuit of a nursing career.
Scholarship recipients were selected based on the submission of a personal essay on their vision of a career in nursing. With more than 125 applicants, two of the winners come from the Bronx: Destiny Ashley and Kamoy Beagle.
Ashley, 17, of Wakefield, witnessed firsthand the qualities nurses possess in their ability to heal patients when her younger sister was born prematurely with a cleft lip and palate. Growing up in the Bronx, which has been designated as the least healthy county in New York State, Ashley has seen how many people lack health insurance and suffer from asthma, diabetes and hypertension.
“There are a lot of problems in the Bronx in terms of health,” she said.
Surrounded by her parents, Adobe and Leroy, both nurses, Ashley has always had a yearning to be in the medical field and make a difference like her parents. All of these things inspired the teen to want to become a registered nurse. Needless to say, Ashley was elated when she received news that she was a recipient of the scholarship.
“I’m very grateful for the money for school,” she said. “This was one of the scholarships I wanted.”
Reflecting on her past, Ashley credits her teachers and guidance counselors for pushing her to work hard. “If you show that you really care about your studies doors will open up for you,” she said.
After seeing how the pandemic has affected the Bronx, specifically the Wakefield area, Ashley knows that nurses and doctors are needed now more than ever.
“It’s like a sense of duty,” she said about becoming a nurse. “If I don’t help, who will.”
Inspired by the role nurses play in advocating for the vulnerable — as well as her parents — Ashley will be attending Pace University in the fall and hopes to become a traveling nurse.
Beagle, 17, of Parkchester, has wanted to be a nurse ever since she was a child in Jamaica.
She grew up surrounded by people in the medical field. Her grandmother was a certified registered nursing assistant, she has aunt who is a doctor, an aunt who is a home health aide and a stepmom who works in a nursing home.
“I wanted to study nursing because I was always fascinated by the healthcare field,” she told the Bronx Times.
She came to the U.S. at age 10, and by 13 she was volunteering after school at a nursing home in Williamsbridge where her stepmom Norda worked. She enjoyed it and participated in activities with the residents ranging from dancing to games.
As she got older, Beagle observed how many people in the Bronx struggle with their health. But what really gave her that final push towards nursing was the pandemic. Not only did many people in her community contract the coronavirus, but she watched her grandma Esther battle the disease for two months.
“During the pandemic I saw how vital healthcare workers were to the economy,” she said. “Living in the Bronx has been a firsthand experience for me. I’m just aspiring to help people.”
Beagle, who plans on attending Stony Brook University one day become a nurse anesthetist, told the Bronx Times that studying nursing was important, but the tuition was going to be tough on her family. So, receiving the scholarship was a huge burden lifted off their shoulders. She added that the scholarship also means a lot because she was recognized for her work and desire to help people.
“I was really shocked that I won the scholarship,” she said. “Many people are not able to receive this kind of aid in the Bronx. It feels very rewarding to go to college and not have to worry about financial aid.”
Reach Jason Cohen at email@example.com or (718) 260-4598. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter @bronxtimes and Facebook @bronxtimes.