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Story and photo by Jenn Vanderlaan

The Friends of Chinook Regional Hospital, together with Alberta Health Services Volunteer Resources, award scholarships to four exceptional volunteers each year.

Two scholarships of $2000 and two scholarships of $1500 are awarded to young people pursuing a career in healthcare, who live within the hospital’s service area and who have volunteered with patients at Chinook Regional Hospital (CRH).

“We know that high school and post-secondary students who serve as volunteers have a tremendous impact on supporting patients and staff,” says Chris Fujita, South Zone Manager, Volunteer Resources. “Having these scholarships is a significant way to recognize their contributions.”

Richard Camacho, 23, was accepted into the nursing program at University of Lethbridge and will commence studies this fall.

He always wanted to be a paramedic, but his volunteer experience gave him an opportunity to see how different disciplines worked within healthcare and he soon realized he had a different calling. “It wasn’t long before I knew my heart was set on nursing,” says Camacho. “It’s patient oriented and I really like that.”

Matea Obara, 18, has been accepted into the Bachelor of Nursing program offered through Lethbridge College with a transfer to University of Lethbridge after two years. Obara will start school in the fall.

“Patients in the hospital are in such a vulnerable spot and they can be lonely,” says Obara. “My volunteer experience made me want to be one of those nurses that helps patients have a positive experience. To make a difference in their recovery is so awesome and the nursing staff have a huge impact on that.”

Matea admits that coming to CRH is the highlight of her week. Volunteering, she says, has made her value her life so much more.

Katrina Taylor, 19, is going into her second year of biology at University of Lethbridge, with aspirations of becoming a physician in either family medicine, pediatrics or trauma.

Taylor began her volunteer journey with Alberta Health Services in Grade 10. After job shadowing with a team of doctors, she realized she had a fondness for staff, patients and especially physicians.

“I loved the relationships that patients in long-term care had with physicians,” says Taylor, “and I really felt I wanted to be a part of that. I realized that being a doctor was what I wanted to do.”

Bhadra Pandya, 18, just graduated high school and will be starting university in the fall. He will be studying neurosciences at University of Lethbridge and hopes to one day become a doctor.

“I’ve always wanted to go into medicine,” says Pandya, “but immersing myself in a healthcare setting was important for me as it helped me better understand what I wanted to do.”

Pandya’s volunteer experience allowed him to interact with people from all walks of life. He felt that it broadened his worldview and made him more empathetic and humble.
“Volunteering taught me a lot of important life skills and to be a better person overall,” says Pandya.

Daniel Erickson, Executive Director of Friends of Chinook Regional Hospital, says these volunteers were chosen for many reasons. “Their outstanding passion for volunteerism, community service and plans to establish healthcare careers really sets them apart. Congratulations on this significant achievement on your journey toward a career in healthcare.”