Transforming Lives: The Impact of Scholarships on Health Career Students at CCAC

By: Kristina S. Zuccarelli – Manager, Scholarships and Alumni Affairs – CCAC Educational Foundation

Higher education is a phenomenal catalyst for change, and this is true not only for the individual, but for our community at large. At the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC), we see this transformation every day, and no two stories are identical. Students share their dreams of changing their lives, their family’s future, and the challenges they experience along the way. Our students are working adults pursuing goals once paused for parenthood, individuals tired of unfulfilling, low-wage employment, and even career professionals seeking a fresh start.

Each success story is unique. It could be a degree or certification, acceptance to a transfer institution, a family-sustaining career, or Dean’s List recognition. These are all occasions worthy of celebration. Unfortunately, a student’s financial circumstance can make these celebrations unattainable. At the CCAC Educational Foundation, our fundraising efforts support scholarships, emergency aid, and supportive services, which can help to dismantle the financial barriers blocking the path to success. As student goals grow, so too do their needs, and we cannot do this work alone. With the generous partnership of dedicated donors including the Allegheny County Medical Society (ACMS), we continue to expand our scholarship program year-over-year. Over the past five years the amount of scholarship funding awarded has tripled, to now over $600,000 annually.

Created in 1993 and permanently endowed in 2012, the Allegheny County Medical Society Health Careers Endowed Scholarship provides financial assistance to qualified CCAC students enrolled in nursing and allied health programs. Currently, CCAC offers more than 22 Associate of Science and certificate programs in various health careers. These highly-competitive, limited-admission programs boast impressive outcomes, including a 90 percent graduate employment rate, a first-time pass rate of 85.44 percent on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), and some of the lowest costs of healthcare career programs in the region. In addition, as 82 percent of CCAC students choose to live and work locally post-graduation, the impact of scholarship support extends far beyond the individual. Together, CCAC and ACMS remain committed to supporting our region through healthcare excellence.

For the Fall 2023 semester, the ACMS Health Careers Endowed Scholarship awarded six $650 scholarships. We are pleased to share a brief profile of the Fall 2023 ACMS scholars:

  • Jakob, a volunteer firefighter and caregiver for his disabled mother, is studying to become a medical laboratory technician as it aligns his interests with robust career prospects after graduation.
  • Future nurse Breonna has worked as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) for UPMC for several years, and has a passion for changing lives through warm and welcoming patient care.
  • After completing her B.S. in business, health information technology student Monique felt a calling to help marginalized communities navigate the healthcare system. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in health care informatics after CCAC.
  • Rylie’s childhood hospital experiences inspired her to pursue a career as a radiologic technologist, with goals to add certifications in nuclear medicine, CAT, and MRI imaging.
  • Fascinated by medicine since high school, Miranda plans to complement her degree in vascular diagnostic ultrasound with additional studies in cardiac ultrasound for an eventual career in pediatric cardiovascular healthcare.
  • Lastly, citing UPMC nurses and patients as his greatest inspiration; medical assistant Avain came to CCAC in 2013 to expand his English-speaking abilities, and plans to use his nursing career to help the less fortunate.

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