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Guadalupe Regional Medical Center Establishes Nursing Excellence Scholarship

With the health care needs of the region rapidly growing, Guadalupe Regional Medical Center (GRMC) has established the Nursing Excellence Scholarship for Texas Lutheran University’s Nursing program. The scholarship will provide $10,000 total per year for up to two students enrolled in the traditional BSN program each year for the next four academic years. By supporting TLU through a multi-year pledge to fund annual scholarships, GRMC and other annual scholarship donors are having a direct impact on students as they pursue their education.

GRMC has served as a resource for students, faculty, and staff throughout the years and has been a clinical site for decades. More recently, TLU partnered with their Urgent Care at Clear Springs clinic as a site for student referrals from TLU’s Health Center. Associate Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Jena McKinzie says GRMC’s commitment to support a multi-year scholarship represents their recognition of the caliber of TLU’s Nursing program and its students. McKinzie says the scholarship sets the stage for a stronger pipeline of training and retaining nursing graduates who want to stay and serve in Central Texas.

“Seguin is a unique region with its own identity that is often overshadowed by our bigger neighbors in San Antonio and Austin,” she said. “By working with GRMC, TLU acknowledges that we value our regional resources and want to be a strong partner in supporting Central Texas’ industry needs, workforce development, and community outreach goals. We also believe that stronger institutional connections will deepen the overall TLU experience while our students are Seguin residents.”

Kody Gann, CFO of GRMC, says the medical center and TLU have been intertwined for decades as two of the foremost organizations serving Seguin and surrounding regions.

“It has been a natural fit for the two organizations to overlap in health-related services including the student internships and more recently with the collaborations involved with the nursing program and clinical rotations at GRMC,” he said. “Part of GRMC’s commitment to our community includes this newest investment in our nursing scholarship. We encourage those who are interested in a health care career to explore TLU’s nursing program, consider remaining in this area, and even to perhaps join our excellent GRMC team.”

Pictured left to right: TLU Nursing Program Director Dr. Amie Bedgood, Nursing major Hannah Birch, GRMC Chief Nursing Officer Daphne Blake, GRMC CFO Kody Gann, TLU President Dr. Debbie Cottrell, GRMC CEO Robert Haynes, TLU Associate Director for Development Brian Wallace, Nursing major Noah Rios, and TLU Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations Theresa Spiess.

This year, Gann says GRMC is adjusting to accommodate the increasing number of student nurses at the hospital, which is projected for as many as 40 during each semester. He also says the relationship has been mutually beneficial, with nursing students benefitting from the conveniently located rotations and with the hospital benefitting from having hired more than 25 excellent nursing students to date.

“TLU and GRMC certainly share values for high quality and commitment, which became evident immediately upon the initiation of student rotations at our hospital,” he said. “The instructors have all been very involved and engaged with their students’ learning experience here. It’s clear that TLU is committed to developing their nursing students into well-rounded professionals prepared for extended clinical careers in management as well as bed side nursing.”

Nursing majors Noah Rios and Hannah Birch are the first students to receive the scholarship. Both say they felt called to health care after being inspired by their own experiences.

“I witnessed my mom, who was a nurse for 18 years, help people and I saw the joy she had from it that imprinted on me,” Rios said. “It wasn’t until I joined the United States Marine Corps working as an Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighter before I was exposed to the medical field firsthand. In those moments, I was able to make somebody’s bad day better. I also lost patients and I would question myself asking things like, ‘what if I knew more?’ or ‘could I have saved them?’ It was toward the end of my career in the military when I knew I wanted to pursue nursing and further my education so I can help more people.”

Birch’s story of why she decided to become a nurse is one of hope and inspiration.

“My mom was shot when I was 12, and I had no medical knowledge at that point,” she said. “The most I could do was tell her I was there for her. I couldn't relieve her pain, nor could I stop the bleeding. She survived, by God's grace, and is now a living testimony of the phenomenal medical team she saw. Throughout the next few years, I came across other medical emergencies where I couldn't do much more than assure the patient that I was with them, so I decided I needed training. I could no longer simply watch as people suffered. Seeing what a difference the ICU and ER nurses made in my family’s lives pushed me toward nursing, and with my background, I’m particularly drawn toward the ER or flight nursing.”

Rios and Birch are incredibly grateful for the generosity of GRMC and encourage high school students interested in nursing to consider becoming a Bulldog. For an incredibly hands-on educational experience with professors who work one-one-one with you, the two say to look no further than TLU.

“At TLU, you don’t have a classroom with 200 or more students where the professor doesn’t know you personally,” Rios said. “I know all of my professors and they know me. You can build a great working relationship with them. Although the program is challenging, the reward outweighs that aspect.”

Not only was Birch drawn to TLU because of the program’s high National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) pass rates, but she was also thrilled she would be able to continue playing music in college.

“The unique opportunities available at TLU are amazing,” she said. “If you’re a science major and a musician, you can do both. If you're also a writer like me, there are opportunities to become a TLU Student Media editor like I am, too. The possibilities are almost endless. TLU has opportunities that develop you far beyond what you could ever imagine. I mean, who ever thought I could study nursing, play instruments, and be paid to write all in the same semester? I also really love the smaller class sizes and that I get more time with my teachers. I'm more than a number; TLU wants me to succeed.”