Four Lincoln County nursing students are this year’s recipients of the Gribler Loving Trust Nursing Scholarship from the Pacific Communities Health District Foundation.

McKenzie Thomas was awarded $3,000 toward her education, while Ann Martin, Alair Sjostrom and Gabrielle Zimmerman each received $2,000.

As part of the application process, each student submitted short autobiographies addressing their commitment, background, work ethic and desire to become a nurse.

“After reading their heartfelt words, I have no doubt that they will make good use of the scholarship support and go on to be assets to the nursing profession and to our community,” said Ursula Marinelli, PCHD Foundation executive director, who announced the scholarship recipients.

Expressing an interest in science, appreciation for the sense of community in Lincoln County, and a desire to help locals be safer are among the things that prompted McKenzie Thomas to pursue a nursing degree. She wrote in her essay: “I know that my nursing journey will not always be easy, but I feel that the reward of seeing the impact I make in my community will make all the work worth it.”

Since the age of 12, Ann Martin knew she wanted to help others in need. While raising her family, she worked as a unit secretary in a large teaching hospital and later earned a bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation. It wasn’t until she moved to her “forever home” of Newport that she discovered her desire to become a registered nurse. When COVID-19 hit, she became a certified nursing assistant and worked on the COVID hall at a nursing facility. “Throughout my life, my commitment to bettering the lives of others has come to fruition in many ways. I will devote my life’s work to caring for others to the very best of my ability,” Martin wrote.

Alair Sjostrom, who has worked as a certified nursing assistant at Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital for the past five years, wrote about her desire to help others since she was a young girl, and how she overcame failures and obstacles, including a traumatic car crash. “I never gave up no matter how many times I wanted to quit. … [I had to] work twice as hard mentally and physically to prove myself right. Now I’m proud to say I’m a second-year nursing student.”

Second-year nursing student Gabrielle Zimmerman wrote that the challenges of this past year have only deepened her admiration for her chosen career path. “As I continue to further my knowledge of the medical field, my interest in it only grows stronger, and I truly feel honored to be a nursing student. Every challenge has led me to work harder and continue to push forward. When COVID is over, I will be able to look back and say ‘I made it through, in the middle of a pandemic. Anything is possible!’”

The scholarship is named for Olga and Bill Gribler, who were active in the Newport community beginning in 1947. Olga worked for the telephone company and later at the Bank of Newport. Bill taught music and entertained throughout the community. The Griblers established a generous scholarship with the PCHD Foundation to address the ongoing need for quality nurses in this rural area. To date, the PCHD Foundation has awarded more than $71,000 in Gribler scholarships to 24 students, including this year’s recipients.

For more information about the PCHD Foundation, visit samhealth.org/PCHDF or call 541-574-4745.

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