Nurse Records Video Message Inspired By Peeples Scholarship
Every spring the Sandy Peeples Endowed Scholarship scholars meet to share stories, hugs, and laughter over lunch with donor and Dominican trustee Susan Johann Gilardi ’68 and Pat Peeples, sister of Sandy Peeples. It’s an annual event that former scholarship recipient Lana Salvador ’14 cherishes.
With the annual gathering postponed this year, Lana wanted to make sure her thanks will still be heard. So, after a long shift as a respiratory isolation nurse at UCSF Medical Center, Lana taped a message of appreciation – and inspiration.
Lana is working directly with patients struggling with coronavirus. The times, she acknowledges in her taped message, are scary and unsettling. Yet, her message was one of hope.
“It’s easy to think it’s the end of the world – but it isn’t,” Lana says. “What we are seeing is love in action. The empty spaces are proof of how much we care about each other – our grandparents, our immune-suppressed friends, people who we will never even meet – and to me that’s beautiful. It’s one of the most remarkable acts of global solidarity that I have ever witnessed.”
The sincerity of the message is unmistakable. For Lana, receiving a Sandy Peeples Endowed Scholarship not only made it financially possible to attend Dominican, but also provided a community of mentors she can call on for support, friendship, and understanding.
“We come from similar backgrounds – inner-city youth from low-income families,” she says. “Many, like myself, are first-generation Americans and first-generation college students.”
Lana found it reassuring to hear that the other scholars were grappling with the same issues she was finding challenging. “It was really comforting to touch base with the alumni and hear that they struggled with similar things, but overcame them. This gave me hope during those stressful college years.”
Community was what Lana was craving when she came to Dominican as a freshman to study nursing. She was eager to find a network of support she felt was missing at her large high school in San Francisco.
“I had been in public school my entire life,” Lana says. “My classes had anywhere from 30-40 students and I recall having to sit on the floor in the back of the room, with no desk, if I didn't make it to class early enough to claim one.”
Dominican’s small classroom sizes were a major draw, along with the serene campus located within reach of, but yet far enough away from, the hustle and bustle of a city. It was the perfect place to study and learn to master a challenging degree program, guided by faculty committed to her success.
“My professors knew me by name, and emphasis was placed on understanding the information presented, not merely memorizing for testing. Dominican met me halfway – with as long as I put in the work, they made sure I graduated in four years.
Recipients of the Sandy Peeples Endowed Scholarship (as well as other Dominican scholarships) must demonstrate both an ability to overcome adversity and a desire to use their education to make a positive difference through giving back and helping others.
The call of nursing shaped Lana from an early age. When she was in elementary school, her grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer with metastasis to the brain. Lana and her autistic brother spent many hours at the hospital with her grandfather while their parents worked.
“This was a scary time for me, as I felt like I was left responsible for the two with little to no guidance,” she recalls. “My grandfather didn't speak a lick of English and had no formal education. I found myself struggling to translate the information the doctors and nurses gave me.”
It was then that she realized how frightening hospitals could be. “Doctors and nurses would use medical terminology foreign to everyday folks. I knew the healthcare system needed to change how professionals communicated with patients, and I wanted to be a part of that change. It was then that I decided I wanted to become a nurse.”
Lana looks forward to meeting again with her Sandy Peeples Endowed Scholarship community when it is safe to do so. Until then, her taped words of thanks are taking on a new meaning.
“I would like to thank everyone who has been sheltering in place and doing what they can to flatten the curve – I really appreciate it, and I can’t wait until we can share a meal again, hug each other, and share stories in person,” Lana says. “Until then, please take care and stay safe.”
The Sandy Peeples Endowed Scholarship supports female Summer Search graduates from the Bay Area. Recipients demonstrate both an ability to overcome adversity and a desire to use their education to make a positive difference through giving back and helping others. Susan Gilardi established the scholarship in 2007 to honor her dear friend Sandy Peeples, a college and financial aid advisor for Summer Search, who died of cancer in 2012. Since its inception, the scholarship has awarded over $500,000 to 16 students. Sandy Peeples alumni are now working in nursing, education, interior design and food technology.
Dominican's Week of Caring on May 11-16 will help make it possible for more students like Lana to attend Dominican.