Twice a year, students from across the region are invited to apply for the Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) Scholars program. The ARH Scholars are awarded a $5,000 academic scholarship to pursue a degree in healthcare. Their stories are unique, but a common thread unites every winner: a desire to make a difference to the people of Appalachia through healthcare. The Fall 2019 class of ARH Scholars included ten talented future healthcare providers, like Kaley Collins, from West Liberty.
As a senior at Morgan County High School, Kaley, like most teenagers, tries to balance work and fun as much as possible: “I love hanging out with my friends and doing activities on the weekends,” Kaley says, “but I also work very hard in school and try to get the best grades I can.” Even while she’s in the middle of her final year as a high school student, she’s already making plans for her future. In the fall, she’ll be a first-year nursing student at Morehead State University.
“I chose nursing because I love the feeling of helping people,” Kaley says. “My aunt and cousin both worked at Morgan County ARH. Being around them and hearing them talk about the gratifying experiences they’ve had in nursing is what originally sparked my interest in the medical field.”
At Morgan County High School, Kaley has already begun her medical studies. “I have an instructor who worked at ARH as a nurse,” Kaley says, and recalls the classes she’s taken so far: “Principles of Health Science, Medical Terminology, and Emergency Procedures. This year I’m taking Nurse Aide, too, and at the end of the year I’ll get to go and take the state test to become a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant.)” Kaley has enjoyed every medical class she’s taken so far and can’t wait to further her studies in the nursing program at Morehead State.
Kaley talks about nursing in a very specific way: she doesn’t just want to help people, she wants to help the people of Morgan County, where she was born and raised. “I want to give back to this community,” she says, “I love West Liberty. It’s a family town, and everyone knows everyone else. We’re all close. So, in the future, I see myself living and working in Morgan County.”
There’s a lot to be done between now and the future that Kaley is working toward, and she knows it. Already, she’s looking beyond her 2024 college graduation, and exploring post-baccalaureate programs, like the physician assistant program at the University of Kentucky. Seeing years of schooling ahead of her inspired Kaley to apply for the ARH Scholars program.
“Our guidance counselor shares all of the available scholarships with us, and of course, ARH Scholars interested me because it was for the medical field. When I got a letter in the mail saying that I’d gotten the scholarship, I felt so relieved because that money helps a lot.” Kaley says, mentioning how expensive college can be. “And,” she continues, “it’s an honor to be named as a recipient, because ARH is our local hospital. It feels like my community is supporting me now, and then later I can give back to my community. I want to see my patients get better; I want to change people’s lives.”