May 17, 2013
May 15, 2013 — When Annel Mendoza was 6 or 7, she learned her cousin had a heart murmur. After watching her cousin go from surgery through recovery, Mendoza decided that she wanted to become a heart surgeon. Mendoza still has her eyes on that goal. Enrolled at Portland State University, she is beginning her path to medical school. The first in her family to go to college, Mendoza knows she has a long and expensive road ahead. But the dream she nurtured as a little girl is alive and strong, thanks in part to the Kaiser Permanente Health Care Career Scholarship Program. This year, the Health Care Career Scholarship Program is awarding $2,000 grants to 108 graduating high school seniors who plan to pursue careers in health care. In addition, 20 previous recipients — now college students — will receive a second scholarship to help them continue their studies. Since the program began, Kaiser Permanente has awarded almost $1.25 million to 566 students in the service area stretching from Longview, Wash., to Salem, Ore. Kaiser Permanente will also honor an outstanding educator: Dave Sherden, a teacher at Franklin High School. Kaiser Permanente will make a donation to Portland Public Schools on his behalf. The scholarship presentation ceremony is May 18 from 1 to 4 p.m. (reception begins at 1 p.m., ceremony at 2 p.m.) at the Performing Arts Center, PCC Sylvania, 12000 SW 49th Ave., Portland. Kaiser Permanente clinicians will be available to talk to the recipients about their respective careers, and three mobile health clinics will be onsite. Entertainment from the One of a Kind Drumline will begin the festivities. Melody Rose, PhD, interim chancellor of the Oregon University System, will deliver the keynote address. “We at Kaiser Permanente are proud to support these outstanding young people as they pursue their dreams of a career in health care," said Sue Hennessy, vice president, Strategic Planning & Health Plan Services for Kaiser Permanente. “Each year, I am inspired by the intelligence, determination and compassion shown by the scholarship recipients.” The Kaiser Permanente Health Care Career Scholarship Program seeks to increase and diversify the region’s health care workforce by investing in the professional and personal health of youths. The scholarships are administered by the Oregon Area Health Education Center at OHSU. Preference is given to students whose parents did not go to college, who show a demonstrated financial need, who are members of an ethnic or racial group underrepresented in a health care profession, and who speak English plus a second language. Like Mendoza, many of the winners are the first in their families to attend college. And once these students finish their education, there will be jobs: The number of positions in health care is projected to grow by 25 percent over the next decade.