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Scholarship Winners Have Moms to Thank

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Hospital's First Health Equity Awards Go to Alton, Edwardsville High School Students

The two winners of Alton Memorial Hospital’s first two Health Equity Scholarships had to consider those honors a very special Mother’s Day gift this year.

Taryn Wallace, a senior at Alton High School, and Samara Helton, a senior at Edwardsville High School, were both raised by single mothers who have been steady influences in their lives -- and they were awarded the scholarships four days before Mother’s Day.

Samara’s mother, Nova, had Samara when she was 18 years old, and Samara said that her mom sacrificed a lot of her personal goals for her children.

 “She worked so hard to make sure we had everything we would need,” Samara said. “When her classmates were packing up to move to college, my mother was changing my diapers. I work very hard to make sure that she knows that my hard work is not only for me but for her as well to show how far her sacrifice has come. In a way, her having me so young has become my biggest drive to become the most successful person I can be to show her what she could have been.”

Samara has five siblings ranging in age from 16 to 4 – Nicholas, Joslyn, Hayleigh, Ronin and Lucy -- and another one on the way in June.

 “My siblings are also a big part of my drive to make sure I can be the best role model for them as possible,” Samara said.

Taryn’s mother is Amanda Wallace, a nurse on Alton Memorial Hospital’s Intermediate Care Unit.

“My mom has been raising me on her own, with some help from family on occasion, since I was born,” Taryn said. “She went back to school and got her nursing degree when I was 8 years old to not only better our lives, but also to help people. My mom is the epitome of a hard-working and amazing individual. I will forever look up to her and her strong qualities.

“Growing up, I’ve always had great role models in the medical field (Taryn’s cousin is Megan Flowers, manager of the AMH Inpatient Pharmacy, and she also has an aunt in the medical field). Combining that with my love for chemistry, I’ve become determined to be a pharmacist.” 

Taryn, who will graduate from AHS later this month, is enrolled at Lewis and Clark Community College to complete her pre-pharmacy courses and then will transfer to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Pharmacy to pursue her Pharm D degree.

Samara attended Civic Memorial High School in Bethalto her first three years of high school and will graduate from EHS later this month. She will be attending the University of Tampa this fall to study Biology on a Pre-Med track.

“I plan on pursuing a career in the dermatology field,” she said. “Dermatology visits are not always covered by insurance and doctor visits can be quite costly. It will be my responsibility to have payment plans available for people of all incomes to get the treatments they need and deserve.”

Samara’s interest in dermatology also came from watching “Dr. Pimple Popper” on You Tube and later on the Lifetime channel. Dr. Sandra Lee is the California dermatologist featured in the programs.

“I watched that You Tube channel growing up and it was my favorite,” Samara said. “I’m someone who loves to put smiles on people’s faces, and if I can make that happen by being their dermatologist, then I’m going to make that happen. People often struggle with their image due to acne or some physical imperfection. Being a dermatologist would mean helping to remove insecurities.”

Madison County high school seniors or recent high school graduates who are part of historically marginalized populations could apply to Alton Memorial for scholarships of up to $5,000 this spring. The scholarships could be renewable for up to three years beyond the initial term (up to four years total) and could include employment while in school.

“As we continue our journey to improve health equality, it’s an honor to offer these scholarships to some of the brightest local youth to ensure they are able to pursue health care careers without a large financial burden,” said Brad Goacher, chief operating officer for Alton Memorial Hospital. “The funding for these scholarships is being made available from generous donations to the hospital from members of our community intended to support training and education.”

Recipients will be asked to consider employment at Alton Memorial Hospital during and upon completion of their degree or certification. Annual renewal will be based on documentation of progress toward completion of program and a minimum 2.5 grade point average.

Pictured above: Photo at left is Samara Helton, right, with her mother Nova; photo at right is Taryn Wallace, left, with her mother Amanda.

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