The Meadowlark Foundation has announced three nursing scholarship recipients.

Sarah Duggan, community relations director, says their scholarship program is in its fourth year. She says the last few years with the pandemic, everyone has seen the spike for the need of healthcare workers.

“But even before that, the industry was noticing that we really need to work on investing in our people to support them in going through the nursing program, to further their careers, and then to have some great caregivers and support for people who live at places like Meadowlark.”

The nursing scholarship awards are for current employees at Meadowlark. Amounts vary depending on what is awarded by the Kansas Board of Regents, however, each recipient ends up with their nursing program fully, or nearly fully, funded.

This year’s recipients were Julie Fowler, Jessica Pagan, and Auja Saunders.

Saunders has been working at Meadowlark since December of 2021. She says she was shocked to hear that she was a recipient because of her short stint with Meadowlark.

“The team there really reassured me that it’s anyone’s game. Anyone can get it as long as you love what you do and you show that. I was really shocked when they called me. I was screaming and running around the house.”

In contrast, Fowler has been at Meadowlark for six years now. She says she loves every second of it and shares how she found a career in healthcare.

“My mom, she was a nurse and she kind of got that foundation of caregiving and health into me early and so, I already did that with my friends and family. I was the one that was always taking care of everybody and what not, but once I was actually in the job as a CNA and saw the change that I could do, even in just a short, my first day in clinicals, I saw the impact I could help people with. I think that’s when it really clicked for me.”

Saunders and Fowler both agree that they love their job. Saunders shares advice for anyone considering healthcare.

“Keep pushing forward, because in the end it will be worth it. Make sure you love whatever field you are entering because clients and workers can see and feel if you have any type of negativity or you don’t want to be there, and it can deter them from getting healthy, like wanting to get better.”

Fowler echoes those words, saying when you’re happy, they’re happy.

“You’ve got to have the right heart to be a caregiver. If it’s not a part of you, you’re not going to love it. If you’re just coming in for the money, or something like that, you’re not going to love it as much.”

Meadowlark is a non-profit retirement community founded in 1980 by a group of local citizens and six Manhattan churches who wanted a better living option for older adults in the area.

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