Whittney Work, a Winston-Salem State University junior who is pursing a bachelor’s degree in nursing, is one of 16 national winners of the American Heart Association and Macy’s Go Red Multicultural Scholarships.
The $2,500 scholarships are given to increase culturally-sensitive, patient-centered care. The Go Red Multicultural Scholarships are part of Macy’s Multicultural Fund – which was created in 2009 to focus on increasing diversity in the medical field. The program, which is in its second year, champions greater inclusion of multicultural women in medical, nursing and allied health studies to meet the need that racial minorities have of healthcare providers who understand important aspects of various cultures.
Work, 19, is accustomed to facing challenges. She stepped up to the plate at 16 years old to help support her mother and two sisters.
“I did the only thing I could think of. I attended school until 10:30 a.m. and went to work from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day,” she said. “Although it was challenging and tiring, I managed to graduate from Mooresville Senior High School with honors.”
She is working part-time, taking 13 credit hours, starting clinical nursing rotations at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and still maintaining an overall GPA of 3.8. She hopes to continue her education and one day pursue a career as a neonatal nurse practitioner.
“The scholarship means a lot to me. Although I receive financial aid, I don’t receive enough funds to sustain a full year at WSSU without taking out loans. I often find myself stressing, wondering how I am going to pay for my books, supplies and housing. Because I come from a low income family, my mother can’t contribute to my education costs as much as she would like to. This scholarship will help me pay for next year’s tuition so that I will not have to take out another loan or fall deeper into debt,” says Work.
The demand on healthcare continues to increase, but the number of qualified racial and ethnic nurses and physicians lags behind. Only 5.4 percent of African-Americans and 3.6 percent of Hispanics in the United States are registered nurses, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2010, African-Americans made up only 6.7 percent of medical school graduates and Hispanics 7.5 percent, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.