Amanda Davis loves her job as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) at St. Charles Madras, but has always been interested in the work that she saw the nurses doing. 

She frequently found herself wanting to be more hands-on in the patient care experience. Having also previously worked in hospice care and retirement homes, Davis had often experienced frustration at the limits to which she could help patients. 

“I wanted to be able to do more for my patients. I wanted to have the knowledge to explain things and work with the doctors to make sure (the patients) were comfortable and getting the best possible care. Getting into the CNA cohort fueled my drive to go further,” said Davis, 25. 

She hoped to complete her college prerequisites and then attend Central Oregon Community College's nursing program, but her life hit a rough patch. She struggled with housing and had to take a break from school without knowing how or when she would be able to continue paying tuition. She credits her manager Kelli Jo Hammack for informing her about all the resources St. Charles had for its employees, including a scholarship fund for employees through the St. Charles Foundation.

“I love Kelli Jo, I’ve never had any boss like her,” Davis said. “She supports everyone in what they want to do and will find ways to help. One day I was telling her that I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to pay for school, and she told me about the scholarship program and even wrote a recommendation letter for me.”

Davis quickly applied and was thrilled to be awarded a scholarship. Davis appreciated that the application, instead of focusing on numbers or basic yes/no questions, provided her with the chance to explain her circumstances and financial need.

“I don’t believe in taking money when I don’t really need it, but I definitely needed help with that," said Davis. “Something I love about St. Charles is the resources they have for their caregivers, and the support you can feel from management. You always have opportunities to train in other departments and grow to become more knowledgeable.”

Davis hopes to complete her nursing degree by 2027 and spend the first 5-10 years of her career getting experience in various fields like hospice, mental health and medical-surgery. She would like to eventually end up specializing in wound care, an area that she became passionate about in her job as a CNA. She also plans to spend her career at the Madras hospital, where she was born and where she spent many years volunteering as a child alongside her mother Angel Davis, who has also worked there for 30 years.

In the meantime, Davis keeps the letter announcing her scholarship pinned above her desk at home where she does her schoolwork. “I’m super grateful and thankful that I was able to get the scholarship and have that extra help to make sure I could afford to go to school. Maybe someone will read my story and be inspired to apply and follow their dreams too.”

Davis is one of 22 individuals receiving more than $55,000 in scholarships in 2023 from the St. Charles Foundation. The scholarship fund is one of many ways the organization helps support the health of Central Oregonians. Learn more about the efforts of the St. Charles Foundation.

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