Several East Texas Baptist University nursing students were recently presented with the Polly Cargill Nursing Scholarship on behalf of the Cargill family and East Texas Baptist University.

ETBU’s Denesha Bluford, Diana Garcia, Camryn Johnson, Cameron Kaufert, Victoria Miles, Marissa Morgan, Katie Muldowney, Brittan Price, Cameron Schmitz, Katelynn Smith and Laura Staley received the scholarship during the reception held at the Marshall Grand. The ETBU nursing students were 11 of 14 local students receiving scholarships who seek to impact the medical industry through a future career in nursing.

“This really is a turning point for the Polly Cargill Nursing Scholarship,” philanthropist and donor Jerry Cargill said. “What ETBU’s staff, faculty, students and donors have done to make this a reality is just stupendous. Our goal is to add more of these beautiful, smart, bright faces doing what they’ve done so well for our family and what they will do so well for so many other families. The one thing our country needs right now is nurses and doctors. Nurses are the backbone of the medical system in this country. They make it personal for their patients.”

Jerry’s and his brother Jack’s hearts were touched at the level of care that their mother, Polly Cargill, received from nurses at Marshall Hospital. After she passed, the Cargill brothers decided to honor their mother’s legacy as well as the care shown to their family during such a difficult time by instituting the Polly Cargill Nursing Scholarship fund, helping students in East Texas become equipped and compassionate nurses.

“I chose nursing because it allows me to practice serving, and I can express my knowledge in a meaningful way,” scholarship recipient and ETBU senior nursing major Denesha Bluford said. “I do not take this opportunity lightly as I toil forward to do the will of God as a servant of God in a health care setting.”

The keynote speaker featured at this year’s scholarship reception was ETBU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Thomas Sanders.

“I think of all the people who paved the way for you to be here receiving an education. Today, Polly Cargill becomes one of those people, paving the way for you to give life-changing care to people who need it most,” Sanders said. “Nurses are willing to go the extra mile to help those in their care. It will be because of your faith, and because of your actions, that people will see the light of Christ during a dark time.”

The Polly Cargill Nursing Scholarship has provided financial aid to 60 nursing students from schools across the East Texas region since it was founded 19 years ago. In recent years, recipients have gathered together to be honored and recognized by their schools and founders of the scholarship. The recognition was followed by a reception, during which scholarship recipients had the unique opportunity to visit with the Cargill family.

“Receiving the scholarship was a true blessing, and I could not thank the Cargill family enough,” scholarship recipient and ETBU junior nursing major Cameron Kaufert said. “This is a huge help to my family and I, and the Cargills were a pleasure to visit with. Mr. Jack Cargill was so joyful and told us stories about his traveling experiences! He instantly started talking to us like he had known us forever and genuinely showed his love for us as nursing students through his words and constant smile!”

Announced in June of 2021, East Texas Baptist took on a new role to partner with the Cargill family to help facilitate the Polly Cargill Endowed Nursing Scholarship for East Texas Baptist nursing students. The Polly Cargill Endowed Nursing Scholarship at ETBU was established with an initial gift of $282,000 and was matched by an anonymous donor to bring the corpus of the Polly Cargill Endowed Nursing Scholarship at ETBU to $564,000. In addition to these funds, the Polly Cargill Nursing Scholarship Fund, held at a foundation in Dallas, is awarded to students from East Texas and Northwest Louisiana.

“The investment that has been made through the Christus Marshall Hospital Board, ETBU, and the Polly Cargill Scholarship Foundation to steward our resources and grow these funds will make it possible for many students to be blessed by these scholarships for years to come,” ETBU President J. Blair Blackburn said. “Our belief in Jesus Christ gives us hope for healing that comes through the compassionate care of the hands and the hearts of nurses. The Cargill family has made it a priority to help these students and future nurses with their education because they believe in what nurses can do in the lives of people who need them most.”

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