Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso and the de Wetter Family Foundation announced a $150,000 gift for nursing student scholarships in celebration of Giving Tuesday on Nov. 30. The gift will be matched by TTUHSC El Paso’s excellence funds, making it the second-largest endowment, $300,000 total, dedicated to students at the Hunt School of Nursing.
“Our family is happy to support our community’s future nursing heroes and health care leaders through the establishment of this scholarship,” said Charles de Wetter, community advocate and member of the TTUHSC El Paso President’s Development Council. “Our gift is an investment in students who aspire to a lifelong career in serving patients across our region. We’re hopeful that our support inspires others to give back and pave the way for future health care heroes who make tremendous sacrifices to serve on the front lines of our hospitals. Every scholarship gift of any amount makes a difference.”
The announcement launched the countdown to Cirque de Corázon, the 10-year anniversary celebration of the Hunt School of Nursing, to be held on May 6, 2022. As part of the celebration, TTUHSC El Paso is raising scholarship funds for deserving nursing students – who are more likely to be nontraditional, first-generation college students – in need of significant financial assistance to complete their degrees.
“In the 10 years since the establishment of the Hunt School of Nursing, we’ve helped reduce the nursing shortage in our region by nearly half,” said Stephanie Woods, Ph.D., R.N., dean of the Hunt School of Nursing. “We’re the only accelerated B.S.N. program in the region and our students graduate in just 16 months.”
Currently, 87% of students from the Hunt School of Nursing are El Paso natives, fulfilling TTUHSC El Paso’s mission to create more educational opportunities for Borderland residents. Ten years ago, El Paso County faced a 40% shortage of nurses when compared to the national average. Today, and following the opening of the Hunt School of Nursing, the shortage has been reduced to 20%.
“I actually changed my degree seven times prior to realizing what my true passion and calling was meant to be,” said Victoria Badillo, a Hunt School of Nursing student and de Wetter Family Scholarship recipient. “In March 2019, I knew nursing was for me.” That spring, Badillo’s grandfather was diagnosed with dementia. For a year, she and her family were in and out of the emergency room, hospitals and intensive care units.
“I watched the man I love, who helped raise me and become a vessel of a human, and it was heartbreaking,” Badillo said. “But every time my family and I would visit with my grandfather, the nurses were our saving grace. They brought comfort and reassurance during our dark times. After seeing the impact a nurse can have on a family, I knew I wanted to be a nurse, to extend the same comfort and care to another family during unexpected and troubling times.”
Throughout 2021, TTUHSC El Paso celebrates the Hunt School of Nursing’s 10-year anniversary and its contributions to higher education, health care in the Paso del Norte region and combating the critical shortage of nurses in West Texas.
To date, the Hunt School of Nursing has graduated more than 1,000 students, with a majority of those graduates staying in the region to practice.