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Kaiser Permanente Northwest Awards $535,000 in College Scholarships to Promote Economic Opportunity and Diversify the Health Care Workforce

Press Release – PORTLAND, Ore. – Kaiser Permanente Northwest has awarded $535,000 in college scholarships to 166 diverse students in Oregon and Washington through its Health Care Career Scholarship Program. The program is part of the organization’s ongoing efforts to improve community health by increasing access to educational opportunity and developing a health care workforce that mirrors the communities it serves. This year’s investment brings the total scholarships awarded since the program’s inaugural year in 2009 to nearly $3.1 million.

Scholarships were awarded in amounts of $2,000, $5,000, or $10,000 to 141 high school seniors from 133 eligible public high schools in the Kaiser Permanente Northwest service area, which spans from Longview, Washington, to Eugene, Oregon. In addition, 25 scholarships were awarded to continuing Kaiser Permanente Scholars, rising college juniors who originally received the scholarship as high school seniors.

Recipients of the scholarship receive more than financial assistance. Kaiser Permanente also connects recipients throughout college with professional development and career learning opportunities such as free resume and interview workshops, paid internships and volunteering opportunities to support their persistence to degree completion and readiness to enter the health care field.

“People who go to college have better access to economic opportunity and are less likely to suffer from chronic disease,” said Molly Haynes, director of Community Health at Kaiser Permanente Northwest. “Our 2017 scholars will not only experience the health benefits that come with higher education, but will also serve as change agents in their communities and innovators in the health care system.”

Diverse scholarship recipients

For the second year in a row, more than one-third of the scholarship recipients are Latino. In fact, three-quarters of scholarship recipients hail from diverse backgrounds, reflecting the region’s diversity across race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity and abilities. In addition, more than half of the recipients are bilingual, representing in total at least 19 different languages. Recipients stand to play a critical role in the provision of culturally responsive care.

Roxanne Vasquez, one of three 2017 recipients from Reynolds High School, wants to do just that. “I want to aid and inform those who are in the dark because of financial, language or other barriers that stop them from getting the resources, education and medical care that they and their families need,” said Vasquez, who will attend George Fox University in fall 2017.

New $10,000 Andrew McCulloch Award

Kaiser Permanente also announced today a new $10,000 award named in honor of Andrew McCulloch, president of Kaiser Permanente Northwest. McCulloch will retire later this year and has long been dedicated to providing diverse students with opportunities to pursue health care careers. The award will be offered annually to a continuing Kaiser Permanente Scholar (rising college junior).

“Kaiser Permanente’s support allows recipients like me to take advantage of opportunities that our parents only dreamed of,” said Aleysa Garcia Rivas, the 2017 Andrew McCulloch Award winner, who grew up in a migrant community and is studying public health at Oregon State University. “I am the seed that my parents planted, but Kaiser Permanente and others who have supported me along the way are harvesting a tree that will give back to the community.”

Celebration on Saturday

Recipients will be celebrated at a reception and ceremony at the OHSU Collaborative Life Sciences Building in Portland on Saturday, May 13, 2017, from 1-3:30 p.m. The event will feature a career fair; a performance by the Comparsa Orgullo Morelense Cemiac Chinelos dancers; and keynote addresses from Ronald Copeland, MD, senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer for Kaiser Permanente, and Carmen Rubio, executive director of Latino Network. Teresa Osborne, social studies department head and AVID teacher at Reynolds High School, also will be presented with an Outstanding Educator award and $5,000 donation to the school for her role in facilitating student success for the past 33 years.

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 11.8 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia, including more than 550,000 medical and 260,000 dental members in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, dentists, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical and dental teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: kp.org/share.

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