In 2018, I was a licensed emergency medical technician living in California. I enjoyed my work, but couldn’t see myself in a 20-year career as an EMT. I made myself a promise that in 2020, I would become a student and pursue something different.
As the son of two nurses, a career in nursing finally made sense at that point in my life. I researched several schools, including a few larger institutions closer to home on the West Coast, but found myself drawn to Park University.
I enrolled, moved to Parkville, Mo., and began taking classes in January 2020. Soon after, the pandemic hit the United States in full force.
As a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and one who volunteered during Hurricane Harvey, the California wildfires and the Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, earthquake, I felt called to serve on the frontlines in New York, which was one of the hardest hit areas in the early days of the pandemic.
While Park’s classes (along with the rest of the world) shifted online, I headed to the Big Apple with 50 other health care professionals to assist the Fire Department of New York City. When I arrived, the FDNY was responding to 6,000 emergency calls a day—double their 3,000-a-day, pre-pandemic average. My 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift usually stretched to 18 hours.
It was jolting and grueling. It was also fulfilling and affirming. Once my assignment ended, I returned to Parkville with a new perspective on life, renewed faith that I am on the right career path and a refreshed confidence that Park would prepare me to become the best nurse I can be.
Park has met every expectation. My professors are amazing. I felt welcomed by them from the very beginning and am inspired by their enthusiasm every day.
Dr. Azin Agah, my Introduction to Chemistry professor, adapted her teaching style to meet the demands of COVID-19 safety protocols and took great care to ensure that her students weren’t lost in the transition. She checked in with us often and held us accountable to do the same. Steven Epley, my First Year Writing II instructor, is one of the few people to give me solid feedback on my writing and has set me up for success in other courses. I’m a better writer with growing interests in subjects I didn’t expect to enjoy (such as poetry) because of his influence.
I intend to begin the nursing program in the fall of 2022 and graduate in the spring of 2024—which is ironic, when I reflect. Seventeen-year-old me would never have guessed that I’d pursue this field. My parents tried hard to convince me to follow in their footsteps, but I ran away from it for a long time. Over the years, I made my own path. Through living life, serving others and choosing the right institution to nurture my knowledge, skill and interests, I have discovered my passion.
I know there are other students searching for similar answers, too. Some need the guidance of a strong liberal arts institution to help them discover what they should do with their lives and many of them could not access the power of higher education without the help of scholarships, funded by generous donors like you.
You Can Help a Student Like Jason
Jason is one of many students to receive an endowed scholarship from Park University. Established from an initial donation of $25,000 or more, an endowed scholarship is awarded from the interest on the fund while the principal is never spent.
Donations to existing scholarship funds help grow the principal, which increases the interest available for scholarships. By contributing to an endowed scholarship fund, donors can invest in the future of their profession by supporting students in their field. Their gift might honor a former professor or Park alumnus for whom the scholarship is named.
A gift of any size to an endowed scholarship fund has a lasting impact on Park students. Beyond the financial support, a scholarship is a vote of confidence in a student’s ability.