Caregiver Scholarship Help Students Achieve their Dreams

Mar 8th, 2013 | By | Category: Archives



W. Tyson McLane, from left, with Shondra Holmes, VSU President William J. McKinney, Whitney Howell and J. Britt McLane at the reception recognizing Holmes and Howell receiving the Carson and Philena T. McLane Caregivers Scholarship.

According to J. Britt McLane, who graduated from Valdosta State in 1992, the scholarships promote caregiving and education. Established in 2011, as part McLane Funeral Services’ 75th anniversary celebration, two $2,500 scholarships are awarded annually – one in the Division of Social Work for those students pursuing a master’s degree and one in the College of Nursing for those interested in the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program for Second Degree Students.

“We established a scholarship where we can help people, typically those looking for a second career choice, who want to get a degree in nursing or social work,” said McLane. “This makes it possible to get more qualified caregivers into a position with an education from VSU, where we can serve our community better.”

As part of the focus on community service, recipients of the scholarship are required to volunteer at least 10 hours each semester the scholarship is received.

“My family has been associated with Valdosta State for many years,” said McLane, who noted that his grandmother, Philena, graduated with a teaching degree in 1936 from Georgia State Womans College, which later became known as Valdosta State College and then Valdosta State University. His father, W. Tyson McLane, also attended Valdosta State College and has served in various capacities, including on the board of trustees for the VSU Foundation Inc. “This scholarship allows us to extend our service to the community.”

Caring for Others

After graduating from the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and pre-med, Whitney R. Howell decided to follow her childhood dream and become a nurse.

“I wanted to become a nurse to help and advocate for people in need,” said Howell, who is enrolled in VSU’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program for Second Degree Students. “As a nurse, I feel I could help people in their time of need and care for them.”

Howell, who is scheduled to graduate July 2013, said that she would like to pursue a psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner degree and is also interested in being a nurse anesthetist.

“Originally, I had planned to become a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist due to my interest in mental health,” said Howell. “However, after volunteering, I realized that even in mental health facilities, nurses spend more quality time interacting with patients. I decided that nursing was the field for me when I dis- covered that I could become a psychiatric mental health nurse.”

Finding a Career

When Shondra Holmes found herself out of a job in 2008, she decided it was time to return to school. In May 2011 she graduated from VSU with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and anthropology.

“After earning my bachelor’s degree, my plan was to return to work,” said the Valdosta native. “Unable to find a job and getting a little discouraged, my husband encouraged me not to focus so much on finding a job but a career.”

A longtime community volunteer, Holmes has worked with various non-profit organizations, including with her youth group at Southside Church of Christ.

“I have always been involved in ‘social work’ but just didn’t know that there was actually a master’s program for it,” said Holmes, who is currently working towards a master’s degree in social work at VSU. “After graduation, I would like to continue working in the Valdosta community in some aspect, whether it is hospice, mental health, or working with children and/or adolescents.”

Holmes, who is completing her practicum with Hospice of South Georgia, said that her goal is to own a private practice or non-profit organization for children.