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    Ventura College Foundation Announces Recipients of First Allied Health Scholarships

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    Ventura, Calif.—Ventura College students interested in careers in the medical and health fields received the first annual Allied Health Scholarship awards from the Ventura College Foundation at an April 13 ceremony at the college.

    A total of $93,300 in scholarships were awarded to 42 students who are currently taking or plan on taking courses in the college’s Holistic Health Studies, Kinesiology Program, Paramedic Studies, Nursing Science, Certified Nursing Assistant or Emergency Medical Technology programs.

    “Medical careers are always in the top 25 most needed careers in California,” says Debbie Newcomb, Ventura College Career Education I Dean overseeing the Allied Health curriculums. “Students in our medical programs are able to train for careers that are needed, provide at least a living wage and are satisfying and fulfilling. Local healthcare facilities count on us to make available well-trained students to fill their employment openings. We work collaboratively with hospitals, physicians and emergency services providers to ensure that we are training our students in the up-to-date skills they need.”

    Now part of the Allied Health Scholarship umbrella, this is the 20th year that Paramedic Studies has been offered at Ventura College. Scholarships have been awarded to students in the program since its inception. Students who complete their course work receive a paramedic certification that meets state and national licensing requirements.

    “Scholarship funds mean students don’t have to work extra shifts to pay monthly bills while in the program. This allows them to focus on their studies,” says Thomas O’Connor, Paramedic Studies Department Chair. “Having scholarships that cover the costs of the program and assist with living expenses has an immense impact on student success.”

    Clarissa Swallows from Oxnard is one of this year’s scholarship winners. In fact, she received scholarships from two different donors. She was in her early 20s and a single mom when both her parents became seriously ill. She cared for them and managed their healthcare needs until they eventually passed away. “The experience made me want to jump right into school and become a nurse,” says Swallow, now 38, “but I knew that I had to focus on emotional healing and building a stable life before I could manage going back to school.”

    Eventually, Swallows did return to school and this May, she will be graduating with three Associate Degrees—in Liberal Studies Natural Sciences, Math and Behavioral Science. Her educational goals are to become a Certified Nursing Assistant, be accepted into Ventura College’s Nursing program, obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and eventually earn a Master’s degree.

    “The scholarship awards will be a great help for me. All these programs have lots of expenses outside the cost of the units themselves,” says Swallows. Swallows hopes to one day open a facility that provides care and resources for patients who require home healthcare as well as resources for their caregivers.

    Seventy percent of California nurses receive their education at a California community college. Students who complete their Ventura College Nursing courses and become licensed enjoy a 100 percent employment rate and 86 percent of students attain a regional living wage. In existence for 55 years, Ventura College’s nursing program is the largest in the county, graduating the majority of the county’s nursing students.

    “Our students were raised here, live here, go to our program and stay here to work. Many are bilingual and the first to attend college in their family,” says Ventura College Nursing Program Director Sandra Melton Ph.D. “We are one of the primary suppliers of nurses to area hospitals, medical offices and clinics. Scholarship assistance to students is life changing. The amount could help pay for such items as textbooks, childcare and the high costs associated with taking the licensing exam.”

    Headed for a career in nursing is scholarship recipient Edward Ramirez from Santa Paula. He is currently enrolled in the Ventura College Nursing program. “In high school, I had an epiphany that what I wanted to do with my life was to help people,” says Ramirez. “I had been trying to work and go to school. These scholarships are the difference between being able to sleep at night before an exam and needing to use those late hours to study. Words can’t convey how much this means to me and how much assistance it really is.”

    Ramirez will graduate at the end of this year as a Certified Nursing Assistant. He plans to commission into the Army Officer Nurse Corp.

    “These scholarship students will be providing healthcare services to our communities in the near future,” says Rob van Nieuwburg, Ventura College Foundation board chair. “It’s exciting to see them beginning this important educational journey right here at Ventura College. They will graduate with the skills to obtain necessary, high-demand jobs. We’re proud that the Ventura College Foundation can help them achieve their career goals.”

    Clarissa Swallows with Israel Magaña Amigos

    The 2019 Allied Health scholarship recipients are Monika Ahluwalia, Jacqueline Alvarado, Vanessa Apodaca, Jessica Aubrey, Katheryn Black, Shy Burgess, Rosa Celis-Aguirre, Christiane Craig, Devin Davis, Lauren Davis, Houda Eazizayene, Sophie Elliott, Katja Godebu, Clara Gonzalez, Renee Grimes, Brenda Guillermo, Jessica “Blueberry” Hahn, Michelle Hamm, Holley Hatcher, Anna Heaton, Zoe Holder, Steven Keller, Jeremy Kohlhepp, Aubrey Lehr, Katherine Martinez Cruz, Ana Mena, Mayra Mendez, Gabriela Moreno, Johnathan Munoz, Hector Orozco, Amber Paz, Edward Ramirez, Diego Renteria, Andrea Rodriguez, Jonathan Ruiz, Jarobi Ruley, Angela Scott, Kelly Smyth, Liliana Solis, Clarissa Swallows, Meagan Wilson and Ila Marie Woods.

    Group photo of 2019 Allied Health Scholarship Recipients

    Established in 1983, the Ventura College Foundation provides financial support to the students and the programs of Ventura College to facilitate student success and grow the impact and legacy of Ventura College as a vital community asset. The Foundation also hosts the Ventura College Foundation Marketplace; an outdoor shopping experience held every weekend on the Ventura College campus east parking lot. For more information, contact Julie Harvey at (805) 289-6502 or [email protected] or visit

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