Every year the Moore County Hospital Auxiliary awards $500 scholarships to one or two Dumas High School (DHS) graduates who are in their second year of training for a health career. On Monday, in the lobby of Memorial Hospital, Nedra Napp and Phyllis Palser, both Auxiliary volunteers and retired Dumas Independent School District educators, presented checks to this year's recipients: Alejandra Ramirez and Gay Ku Paw.
Alejandra Ramirez graduated from DHS in 2018 and is studying respiratory therapy at Amarillo College (AC). She commutes to Amarillo five days a week for classes. This semester, she begins her clinical training, which, she says, will increase her workdays to about 12 hours. She is grateful for the money and says it will be very helpful in paying for some of her transportation expenses. She has a year and a half to go before graduation.
Once she graduates, she would like to work as a respiratory therapist in Dumas. "I love Amarillo, but I was born and raised here," she said. "I am used to being a small-town girl."
Asked how she came to choose respiratory therapy as a career, Ramirez replied, "I have loved the medical field since I can remember, but once I was here in college, I began exploring every program that AC had to offer. I knew I wanted to work in a hospital setting. I knew nursing wasn't exactly for me. I started exploring respiratory care, and I just fell in love with it, and I am still in love with it today."
Gay Ku Paw finishes her licensed vocational nurse (LVN) education at Amarillo College in May. She is already into her clinical training. Like Ramirez, she has to drive to Amarillo five days a week. Her days are long. Her first class begins at 8:30 am, and, she says, she gets back to Dumas around 5:00 pm. She too says she is grateful for the money and intends to use it to help pay for her daily commute.
Once she becomes an LVN, she says, she would like to work for a while in a hospital and then return to school to become a registered nurse (RN). Though she does not know yet which area of nursing she wants to focus on, she knows where she wants to work. "If I find a job here, I will stay here," she said. "I would love to stay here and work."
The young Dumas woman and 2016 graduate of DHS has had to overcome some unique obstacles on her way to being on the verge of becoming a nurse in Dumas, Texas. She was a 10-year-old refugee from Burma, when she came here with her parents in 2008. Despite her success in Dumas, she has not forgotten where she came from. "One day I hope I can become a traveling nurse where I can travel to like refugee camps and stuff, because I am from a refugee camp, and I want to go back and help those people too," she said.
The Moore County Hospital Auxiliary is a group of volunteers who, among other things, man the gift shop at the hospital. According to Kathie Fuston, executive director of the Moore County Health Foundation, the volunteers raise money from the gift shop and various fund-raising activities to pay for the scholarships and to pay for equipment they purchase for the hospital. "They could use their time anywhere, but they choose to come and support the hospital, and we appreciate them very much," she said.