Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation helps nursing students through scholarship, funding increased this year
Lindsay O’Toole was fifteen when her father lost his job and she decided to take on a job of her own to help. However, after graduating high school, working while going to college for her nursing degree would not be as easy.
She applied for scholarships her freshman year at Clemson University and the Lettie Pate Whitehead Scholarship helped her get through her sophomore and now junior year.
“It has made a huge difference,” O’Toole said, “My dad lost his job when I was in high school, so I started working as a freshman. It was something I’ve always balanced school and work. I knew coming into college and nursing especially, that would be hard to balance all together.”
When she found out that she had received the Lettie Pate Whitehead scholarship, she was in the financial aid office at Clemson, and started crying because she was so excited.
“So much weight was lifted off my shoulders,” she said. “I could work some, but I would not have to try to manage all the finances.”
Students like O’Toole in the Clemson University School of Nursing Bachelor of Science program benefit from scholarships funded by the Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation. The funding equals $94,000 for the 2018-2019 academic school year.
This year, the scholarships for the School of Nursing have been expanded to include Accelerated Second Degree nursing students.
The Foundation’s scholarship program awards annual grants for the education of deserving female students with financial need at more than 200 accredited educational institutions in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Most of the scholarship grants support undergraduate higher education, though the Foundation maintains a special interest in health education. A significant number of their grants target education in the medical, nursing, and allied health fields.
“We have been impressed with the quality of the nursing program at Clemson and are pleased to help its students achieve their education dreams,” said Carrie Conway, Senior Program Officer for the Foundation. “We know that Clemson nursing graduates will touch countless lives, and we hope they will be guided by the same generosity of spirit that characterized Mrs. Whitehead’s life and work.”
Since 1994, the Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation has supported Clemson’s School of Nursing with gifts totaling $964,000.
Kathleen Valentine, the School of Nursing Director, said she is grateful for the foundation’s gift which she said makes a huge difference in the lives of students.
“We are so grateful to the Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation for their continuous support since 1994. Total gifts of nearly $1 million makes a difference in the lives of students,” Valentine said. “This gives them the opportunity for them to focus more on their studies, and patients will ultimately benefit from well prepared and committed nurses.”
The scholarship is helping O’Toole to follow her dream of becoming an RN, though she’s not 100 percent sure what the future could hold.
“I’ve looked into travel nursing and becoming a nurse educator,” she said. “I loved Med-Surg, Pathophysiology and Pharmacy classes. I think I might want to be a teacher.”
The fact that she doesn’t have to work daily has opened up opportunities at Clemson that O’Toole wouldn’t have otherwise. Because of the Lettie Pate Whitehead scholarship, she has time to be involved in a variety of organizations on Clemson’s campus, including the IPTAY Student Advisory Board, a creative inquiry nursing team studying blood pressure, and her sorority, Kappa Delta, of which she is president this year.
“There are so many things I’m able to do to truly have a college experience,” she said.
Laura Nelson, a junior nursing major, also received the Lettie Pate Whitehead scholarship her sophomore and junior years.
“I actually studied abroad the spring semester of my sophomore year, and I was stressing about how I was going to pay for this trip, because I knew I really wanted this opportunity,” she said. “And then the scholarship came in and I learned that I wouldn’t have to take out loans. It made life easier and less stressful.”
She studied abroad in Cyprus, an island in Mediterranean, but also traveled to other countries in Europe. She’s been able to apply her experience abroad to her clinical work.
“One of my first patients was from a country I visited when I was abroad,” she said. “It was cool to say that on the first day of clinical rotations, my study abroad experiences helped.”
Nelson said that this scholarship helps students because college can be expensive.
“It gives me more time to focus on school,” she said.
She said she’s impressed with the foundation’s level of caring for the students who receive the funds.
“Representatives from the foundation even come to meet the students who get it,” Nelson said. “They really care who they give it to.”
Through her collegiate experience, she’s participated with Clemson Miracle on the Donor Relations Committee raising money by hosting a dance marathon, which is then given to the Children’s Hospital of GHS, as well as a member of Sigma Alpha Omega and a study abroad ambassador.
After college, she plans to be a nurse, and then possibly go into education at the high school or college level.
“I took a Healthcare course in high school and I really enjoyed that class and I want to give that back to high school students.”
About the Foundation
The Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation was created by Conkey Pate Whitehead, Mrs. Whitehead’s youngest son, as a memorial to his mother. It was chartered in 1946 for the “aid and benefit of poor and needy Christian girls and women” in nine states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. The Foundation has awarded nearly $672 million in grants since inception.