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Novant Health awards nursing scholarships

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – In celebration of Nurses Week, Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center Foundation awarded scholarships for nursing excellence to several team members.

The scholarships are awarded every year to nurses who are continuing their nursing education. This year, two team members received the Lara Fix Nursing Scholarship: Katie Braxton and Colby Simmons, both of whom are certified nursing assistants (CNAs) in the mother/baby unit.

In addition, two team members received the Wells Fargo Scholarship for Nursing Excellence: Jennifer McBride, a nurse in the intensive care unit, and Heather Strange, a nurse in the emergency room’s behavioral health unit. Wendy Castro, a certified nursing assistant in the central staffing and scheduling office received the Simmons Fund Scholarship.


The scholarship recipients were announced during the Celebration of Nursing Excellence luncheon Thursday, May 11, as part of the Nurse’s Week celebration. In attendance were nurses with completed degrees, those that have presented for regional and state meetings, those that have completed a research project and the recipients of the nursing scholarships.

The scholarships are funded by the generous donors of the Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center Foundation.

“The Wells Fargo Scholarship for Nursing Excellence will help pay for two semesters of college tuition, not including books, said Jennifer McBride. “I am currently enrolled part time in graduate school and working part time as well. After receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer in 2014, spending time with my family has become a top priority in my life and the Wells Fargo scholarship will decrease the burden of working extra shifts to assist with payment of tuition expenses. In addition, working part time has allowed me to volunteer at my daughter’s elementary school, organize and sell concessions for our neighborhood swim team and serve on the medical team at our church.“

The Wells Fargo scholarship will be a big help toward Heather Strange’s goals, as well, she said. “The first is financially. I have two daughters attending college this fall. My husband and I are fully financing their education. Scholarship funds, such as those offered by Wells Fargo, will allow me to begin my master’s program work now rather than waiting until they have completed their degrees. The other way is related to the graduate work research. There is great benefit to being in my current position and attending graduate school, as research and process improvement go hand in hand. The research I conduct while in graduate school will benefit patient care immediately as I work on real-life process improvement.”

For Wendy Castro, the scholarship will help pay for nursing school at Forsyth Technical Community College. “I am thankful to work for Novant Health because they are providing me with the chance to apply for this scholarship,” Castro said. “This scholarship will help me tremendously by helping me financially with tuition and other school related expenses such as books, uniforms and supplies. I currently work full time and pay for school out of pocket, so this scholarship will alleviate some of the financial stress and will allow me more time to focus on studying to become the best nurse possible. I have enjoyed working for Novant Health for the last three years as a CNA and cannot wait to continue to grow with the company as a nurse. “

Katie Braxton has served as a CNA at Novant Health for nearly nine years. “I have seen many sides of nursing and I have loved them all,” Braxton said. “I realized three years ago that I love this career and wanted to pursue my nursing degree. I have enjoyed the intensity of the program and all that has come with it. I am immediately moving to the Bachelor of Science in nursing program at Winston-Salem State University this summer and I have graciously accepted a resident nursing position with the Women’s Center at Forsyth Medical Center. I am so eager to see each unit and learn all I can from them. Having this scholarship will help ease the burden of school costs and help me to really enjoy my education track and my career as I finish my BSN degree. “


Colby Simmons credits the scholarship for helping her extend her education to earn not only her Bachelor of Science in nursing, but also a master’s as a pediatric nurse practitioner. “Currently, I am paying out of pocket and have student loans to achieve my academic goals,” Simmons said.  “It is a great financial strain on me as a mother of two little ones. I work extra days as well as put in extra hours just to make ends meet. I would love to have the ability to relieve some of the financial stress brought on by my educational requirements. As a former teacher, I have some educational debt from a prior career path. This scholarship can help to reduce the compounding debt of a career change and also allow me to focus more on my education and less on my financial state. Not only will this scholarship provide for some financial relief to me, it is also a way recognize Lara Fix and the impact she had on the nursing community. I feel that I hold some of the same values and beliefs Lara did, in relation to academics and nursing. I would be honored to represent her name as a recipient of this prestigious scholarship. I know that nursing is where I want to be and I have finally met my calling.”

The Lara Fix Memorial Nursing Scholarship Fund was established in memory of Lara Fix, a dynamic coronary care nurse who was killed on the way to work. The fund provides nursing students with scholarship support at Winston-Salem State University. Fix exemplified the term “professional nurse.” She believed in learning and had great pride in her nursing. The Lara Fix Memorial Nursing Scholarship Fund was established in 2005.

The Wells Fargo Scholarship for Nursing Excellence was established to provide scholarships for nursing students interested in working in nursing fields. Upon receipt of the Wells Fargo Scholarship, nursing students are expected to work for Forsyth Medical Center for two years for each scholarship received. The Wells Fargo Scholarship for Nursing Excellence fund was established in 2002.

The Simmons Fund Scholarship was established by Mrs. Betty S. Barber in memory of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. C.R. Simmons, for students pursuing an education in nursing at Forsyth Technical Community College.

Applications for all scholarships were accepted this spring and the recipients were chosen by a nursing selection committee.


About Novant Health
Novant Health is an integrated network of physician clinics, outpatient facilities and hospitals that delivers a seamless and convenient healthcare experience to communities in Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia. Named in 2016 by Becker’s Hospital Review as one of the nation’s 150 best places to work in healthcare, Novant Health network consists of more than 1,500 physicians and over 25,000 employees that provide care at over 470 locations, including 14 medical centers and hundreds of outpatient facilities and physician clinics. Headquartered in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the health system serves more than 4.4 million patients annually and in 2016 provided more than $725.5 million in community benefit, including charity care and services. Diversity MBA has recognized the organization as one of the 50 best places for women and managers of diverse background to work and SK&A ranks Novant Health among the top 25 integrated health systems in the nation. Novant Health provides care in Virginia under the joint operating company, Novant Health UVA Health System.

For more information, please visit our website at NovantHealth.org. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Posted on Wednesday, May 17, 2017