Mayerlis Guerrero from Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Centers on left and Zuhra Sahak from Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center on right

Del Corazon Fund gives career opportunities for team members

Del Corazon Fund at the Terrence and Barbara Caster Institute, established by long-time donors Willy and Alchera Ayyad in April, awards its first scholarships.

In April 2022, long-time Sharp donors and friends Willy and Alchera Ayyad established the Del Corazon First-Generation Fund at the Terrence and Barbara Caster Institute for Nursing Excellence with a $1 million gift. Their extraordinary generosity provides the opportunity for first-generation nursing students to complete their training and entry into practice.

The first $20,000 Del Corazon First Generation Nursing Scholarships were recently awarded to two Sharp employees: Zuhra Sahak, a nursing assistant at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, and Mayerlis Guerrero, a medical assistant in family medicine at Sharp Rees-Stealy Scripps Ranch both first in their family to pursue nursing careers.

"I was at work when I learned I was a recipient of the Del Corazon First Generation Nursing Scholarship Award. I just happened to check my email when I came across the life changing news. My dreams of becoming a nurse had become a reality now,” recalls Mayerlis.

"I can now confidently look forward to furthering my education, elevating, and providing better opportunities for my daughter and myself. I hope I can be an inspiration to my daughter and show her to never give up no matter the obstacle."

Mayerlis Guerro

Medical Assistant, Family Medicine

Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Centers

For Mayerlis, the scholarship will pay for her first year of nursing school and increase her future career opportunities as she works toward becoming a nurse practitioner. She says her heart has always been set on becoming a pediatrics or labor and delivery nurse.

Mayerlis’ mother, a single mom, was a nurse in Nicaragua before moving with Mayerlis, then just 3 years old, to California. As Mayerlis grew, she thought she wanted to become a pediatrician but found she loved working at the bedside of patients of all ages and decided to pursue a career in nursing instead. Now a single mom herself, Mayerlis says this scholarship has forever changed their lives.

For Zuhra, she said this scholarship fulfills a lifelong dream to help others.

“I’ve always known since childhood I wanted to become a nurse,” says Zuhra. “I can’t imagine not working in a career that helps to improve the lives of others.”

Her parents, who immigrated from Afghanistan 25 years ago, read the email with her, realizing the opportunities they had envisioned for her were becoming a reality. It was an emotional day for her entire family and one she won’t soon forget. Zuhra says she wants to pursue a career as a nurse educator and help support and advance the careers of future nurses.

Terrence and Barbara Caster Institute supports nursing excellence

Established in 2008, the Caster Nursing Institute unites Sharp’s contributions to the future of the nursing profession through a strategic vision with the goal of improving patient care. The institute has four centers of excellence, each with a unique focus: professional growth, inquiry and innovation, education and technology, and community engagement.

Sharp HealthCare invests close to $200,000 annually in nursing scholarships. These scholarships help dozens of caregivers further their education and advance their careers. And this year, through the Terrence and Barbara Caster Institute for Nursing Excellence, Sharp was able to offer more scholarships to its nurses than ever before — awarding $228,500 toward educating the next generation of nurses and advancing nursing education.

"With the $3 million naming gift from the Caster Family Trust and funds from other philanthropic donors, we are honored to help generate new professional nurses and advance the education of nearly 7,000 nurses at Sharp."

Laurie Ecoff

Vice President

Terrence and Barbara Caster Institute for Nursing Excellence

Envisioning the future

Even more exciting things are ahead for the Caster Nursing Institute — thanks to the generous contributions made to the ENVISION Campaign — once it establishes its new home and teaching center in the Sharp Prebys Innovation and Education Center (SPIEC). Continued philanthropic investment in the Caster Nursing Institute will help expand the knowledge and competency of Sharp nurses so that skilled and compassionate caregivers can continue to care for community members for decades to come.

Learn more about how the Terrence and Barbara Caster Institute for Nursing Excellence and how you can support scholarship opportunities at Sharp HealthCare.


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