Fifteen Wilkes Community College health sciences students are being honored as recipients of the Gertrude Elliott Health Sciences Scholarship for the 2021-2022 school year. The scholarship is open to all health sciences students.

Recipients include first-year nursing students Tanya Blankenship, McGrady; Kelly Cox, Wilkesboro; Hannah Ellis, Millers Creek; Maddison Frazier, Wilkesboro; Rachel Sutphin, Moravian Falls; second-year students Kaylin Blankenship, McGrady; Brianna Bumgarner, Roaring River; Madison Carter, East Bend; Filomena Galarza, Millers Creek; Jodi Walsh, Boomer; second-year nursing and respiratory therapy students include Megan Church, Ferguson; first-year human services students include Allena Coffey, Moravian Falls; Emily Dancy, Wilkesboro; first-year radiography students include Lauren Dowell, Sparta; second-year medical assisting students include Tammie Watson, North Wilkesboro.

“Receiving a scholarship is like someone else telling you they believe in you,” stated Megan Church. “This scholarship allows me to completely focus on my schoolwork. I plan to finish here from the respiratory therapy program and get my four-year degree and work in pediatric care.”

The Gertrude Elliott Health Sciences Scholarship was established at Wilkes Community College by Drs. Tom and Karolen Bowman. The Bowmans stated, “We are proud to help participate in making sure that anyone who wants to come to WCC for an Allied Health Program should be able to do so and not be barred for financial reasons. Wilkes County and the surrounding area has always benefited from the influence of WCC and its programs, and in these troubling financial times, it is important to support WCC and what it does for the people of Wilkes County.”

Drs. Tom and Karolen Bowman are involved in the scholarship process and work with WCC officials to select the scholarship recipients each year. To date, the scholarship has awarded a cumulative total of $323,958.76 to 294 health sciences students. Initially, the scholarship was granted to nursing students; however, in 2013-2014 the scholarship was made available to students in any health sciences program.

Gertrude Webster Elliott graduated from Davis Hospital School of Nursing in 1954. She worked briefly at Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem before returning to Wilkes County to work for Wilkes General Hospital in the Emergency Department until her death in 1988. Gertrude will always be remembered for her loving care of the many patients she served and her devotion to and love of the nursing profession.

“As the COIVD-19 pandemic continues, it is causing the labor shortages in healthcare to rise at an even more rapid rate than they were pre-pandemic. The demand to fill these positions has never been greater, which is making a real impact on what graduates from these programs can expect to earn when they graduate. It is not uncommon for our graduates in the health sciences programs to be making $40,000-$70,000 as a beginning salary, and they can make much more than that if they are willing to pick up some extra shifts. The Gertrude Elliott Scholarship makes completing an associate degree possible for many of our students by providing scholarships to deserving health sciences students,” says Dr. Jeff Cox, president of Wilkes Community College. “We sincerely appreciate the generous support from individuals like Drs. Tom and Karolen Bowman, which makes it possible for many of our students to realize their dreams of a college education and a rewarding career in a healthcare profession.”

Contributions to the Gertrude Elliott Health Sciences Scholarship may be sent to WCC Foundation/Gertrude Elliott Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 120, Wilkesboro, NC 28697.

Front row l-r: Allena Coffee, Rachel Sutphin, Brianna Bumgarner, Kelly Cox, Megan Church, Lauren Dowell, Jodi Walsh

Back row l-r: Dr. Tom Bowman, Emily Dancy, Maddison Frazier, Tanya Blankenship, Kaylin Blankenship, Hannah Ellis, Madison Carter, Dr. Jeff Cox

Not pictured: Filomena Galarza, Tammie Watson