West Coast University-Los Angeles student Paula Gomez was recognized by the California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools (CAPPS) this September as the recipient of the 2021 Norma Ford Memorial Scholarship. Open to nursing students at any CAPPS member school, the award honors the late Norma Ford’s nearly 30 years of service in the private career school sector.
“This is a huge honor to receive the Norma Ford Scholarship. I was honored that I was even nominated and I’m still in shock that I won but I’m very grateful and thankful for CAPPS for providing this for students," Gomez said, via Zoom where she was joined by friends, family and members of both the Tule River Tribal Council and Tule River Indian Health Board. "This is huge for me and my family. I have a lot of support, and you can see a lot of it here, and I’m just so grateful.”
A mother of two, Gomez is the first person in her family to attend college and drives more than three hours from Porterville, California to attend class or visit her clinical sites in Los Angeles. Before enrolling in WCU-Los Angeles' bachelor of science in nursing program, Gomez worked for nine years as a medical assistant/immunization coordinator with the Tule River Indian Reservation. In October, Gomez will graduate with a 3.55 GPA.
"She wanted to learn more to be able to help her community with health care so she — lucky for us — decided to come to West Coast University-Los Angeles to help herself," WCU-LA academic dean Miriam Kahan said. "Paula has juggled a lot during her nursing program but she’s ready to take the next step as a BSN. On a personal note, she has the most positive attitude and is so appreciative of the education she has received and is humble but confident."
The Norma Ford Memorial Scholarship carries on the legacy of the longtime CAPPS board member, financial aid trainer, and inaugural inductee into the CAPPS Hall of Fame. Ford was passionate about her work, WCU-LA financial aid director Tracy Cabuco said, and had earned respect nationwide for her financial aid expertise in the postsecondary sector.
After graduation, Gomez would like to become a nurse practitioner and work in nursing leadership. WCU-LA executive director Deb Thibodeaux said she was confident Gomez had the drive needed to accomplish whatever she put her heart into.
“It takes tremendous work and dedication to do what you have, as you’ve juggled so many other responsibilities besides graduating from one of the toughest nursing programs in the state of California," Thibodeaux said.
Click here to learn more about the Norma Ford Memorial Scholarship and other CAPPS scholarship awards.