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Number of nursing scholarships awarded hits all-time high

By The Health News Team | October 25, 2022
Mayerlis Guerrero from Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Centers on left and Zuhra Sahak from Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center on right

Mayerlis Guerrero and Zuhra Sahak are the first-ever recipients of the Del Corazon First Generation Nursing Scholarships at Sharp.

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.

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.

“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,” says Laurie Ecoff, vice president of the Caster Nursing Institute.

According to Ecoff, this includes one of the newest scholarships offered by the Caster Nursing Institute through the Wiesler Center for Professional Growth: the Del Corazon First Generation Nursing Scholarship. The scholarship is available to Sharp employees and associates who are first-generation college students.

Sharp employees receive first Del Corazon First Generation Nursing Scholarships
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.

Zuhra says she has known since childhood she wanted to become a nurse and she shares she can’t imagine not working in a career that helps to improve the lives of others. When Zuhra learned she was a Del Corazon scholarship recipient, she says she could hardly believe her eyes upon receiving the good news.

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.

Mayerlis is also extremely grateful for the Del Corazon scholarship, as it 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.

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 supports scholarship opportunities at Sharp HealthCare.

Laurie Ecoff

Laurie Ecoff


Laurie Ecoff is Vice President of the Terrence and Barbara Caster Institute for Nursing Excellence.


Zuhra Sahak


Zuhra Sahak is a nursing assistant at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center.


Mayerlis Guerrero


Mayerlis Guerrero is a medical assistant in family medicine at Sharp Rees-Stealy.

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