Thursday, October 5, 2017 6:04 PM

Generosity helps further nursing careers

Thirty-six Community Medical Centers’ employees had their careers helped along thanks to generous donor scholarship programs at Community. I was thrilled to be the emcee at this year’s award ceremony handing out $109,000 in scholarships to students and nurses seeking to further their education – and their careers in nursing.
Nurses make up almost half of our workforce at Community and they are part of the glue along with other healthcare staff that holds our system of care together. These scholarships are vital to ensuring we keep and recruit top nursing talent. The scholarships help us grow nurse leaders and encourage other staff to become nurses as our patient population continues to increase. For 15 years we’ve been giving out Alice A. Peters Nursing Scholarships thanks to the generosity of the Leon S. Peters Foundation and the Peters family. This scholarship helped 230 aspiring nurses over the years. This year 18 employees and five nurse leaders received Alice A. Peters scholarships.
Tessa Zendner got help to finish her Nursing Master’s in Health Administration. She’s a clinical supervisor in the Leon S. Peters Burn Center at Community Regional. “I love every aspect of being a nurse from helping patients with simple tasks to precepting other nurses and helping them grow,” she said.
Another Peters’ winner, Brianna Watson, who is a unit clerk in Labor and Delivery at Clovis Community hoping to become a nurse, wrote on her application: “The thought of being a nurse humbles me and simultaneously floods my heart with joy…When I walk into a patient room, I want to let kindness, a joyful heart and a sympathetic soul be absolutely contagious.” We certainly hope her attitude becomes infectious! This is the fifth year Gerald and Nanette Lyles have generously provided scholarships for our employees who are finishing their nursing education. It’s reserved for those who are already working at Community who want to grow their careers with us. There were eight recipients – some of them receiving a second bit of help with that bachelor’s degree.
Andrea Moore was our only recipient of this year’s Rajani Family NICU Education Advancement Scholarship, which is designed to encourage our neonatal intensive care staff to pursue advanced education and leadership specifically in our growing NICUs. Andrea, a clinical nurse 3 at Community Regional, is working on her master’s degree in neonatal nursing and works as a transport nurse travelling to referring hospitals to care for babies during their helicopter ride. As the high risk birthing center for the Valley, Community Regional routinely delivers and saves babies weighing under 2 lbs. and gets many more fragile newborns from other hospitals.
The Marilyn Hawkins Nursing Leadership Scholarship went to four accomplished nurse leaders. The scholarship was named after a beloved Chief Nurse Executive and Senior Vice President who left a legacy of encouraging other nurse leaders to follow in her footsteps .Heather Rodriguez who is already following in Marilyn Hawkins’ footsteps with her current interim CNO position wrote in her application: “As difficult as it was moving away from the bedside into leadership, the benefits made it worth the journey. I still impact patient care and quality, I just use the path of supporting and building the nursing team.”
I’m so proud of all these fine nurses and aspiring nurses – and I’m grateful we have donor gifts to help encourage them to continue to grow their careers at Community.

Scholarship Recipients

Alice A. Peters Nursing Leadership Scholarship

Butch Peters poses with four of the five nurse leaders who received the Alice A. Peters Nursing Leadership scholarships.

  • Jodie Benbrook, Director of Women’s Services at Clovis Community

  • Karen Reid-Williams, clinical supervisor Emergency Dept. at Community Regional

  • Heather Rodriquez, interim Chief Nursing Officer

  • Patricia Silva, Hospital Supervisor at Fresno Heart & SurgicalTessa Zendner, clinical supervisor at the Leon S. Peters Burn Center at Community Regional

Alice A. Peters Nursing Student Scholarship
Butch Peters, President of the Leon S. Peters Foundation (standing center in the back row) is being honored by the nurse recipients of the Alice A. Peters Nursing Scholarship.


  • Ahman-Reza Beheshti, Emergency Department nurse at Community Regional

  • Anne Markarian, nurse extern at Community Regional’s antepartum unit

  • Brianna Watson, unit clerk in Labor & Delivery at Clovis Community

  • Carolyn Covarruvia, pharmacy tech at Community Regional

  • Cecilia Andrada, a nurse extern in Med-Surg at Clovis Community

  • Cherie Ellis, Emergency Department nurse at Community Regional

  • Cheryll Cadiente, nurse extern in Cardiac Progressive Care Unit and Med-Surge at Clovis Community

  • Claudia Garcia, nurse extern at Clovis Community

  • Courtney Brown, patient care assistant with the Nursing Float Team at Clovis Community

  • Jaime Clay, nurse extern in the Emergency Department at Community Regional

  • Jeffrey Han, nurse extern with the Nursing Float Team at Clovis Community

  • Jenine Godinez, nurse extern in the NICU at Community Regional

  • Kirsten Bartlett, clinical nurse in Cardiac Progressive Care Unit and Med-Surge at Clovis Community

  • Mai Lor-Cera, patient care assistant in Med-Surg at Community Regional

  • Mary Clay, unit clerk on the Neuroscience Floor at Community Regional

  • Ruby Valdez, a nurse extern in the Leon S. Peters Burn Center at Community Regional

Gerald and Nanette Lyles Nursing Scholarship

Donors Gerald and Nanette Lyles (very center) congratulate this year’s recipients of their scholarship.

  • Sidana Vanny, nurse extern at Fresno Heart & Surgical’s surgery department

  • Brianna Watson

  • Cheryll Covarruvia

  • Claudia Garcia

  • Courtney Brown

  • Jeffrey Han

  • Mary Clay

  • Ruby Valdez

Rajani Family NICU Education Advancement Scholarship

  • Andrea Moore, clinical nurse in Community Regional’s NICU

Marilyn Hawkins Nursing Leadership Scholarship

The Marilyn Hawkins Nursing Leadership Scholarship winners gathered after the event.

  • Jodie Benbrook

  • Karen Reid-Williams

  • Heather Rodriquez

  • Tessa Zendner


Wanda Holderman, F.A.C.H.E.
Chief Clinical Integration Officer
Community Medical Centers