Dr. Prem Reddy Family Foundation awards $102K to High Desert students with 'relentless commitment'

Top Quote Dr. Prem Reddy, the foundation has awarded more than $1.4 million in academic scholarships to High Desert residents to date. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) June 08, 2021 - Hesperia's Lucinda Jimenez was 10-years-old when she first began caring for her older sister, Lupita, who suffered kidney problems and required dialysis treatment.

    During that time, the young caregiver knew her future would involve treating and caring for others who were ill, said Jimenez, a 32-year-old student at Victor Valley College.

    Jimenez was one of 81 students who recently received a financial boost toward their academic goals from the Dr. Prem Reddy Family Foundation, which is located on the campus of Desert Valley Hospital in Victorville.

    During a virtual ceremony on May 27, the foundation gifted each student a slice of the $102,000 scholarship to pursue their careers in health care.

    “The first thing that I want to do is thank the foundation for the scholarship, which will allow me to have enough money to pay for books,” Jimenez said. “I’m so very grateful for all that they’ve done for me and the other students.”

    As a child, Jimenez grew up fast. Her father died when she was 8 years old, and her mother struggled in the prison system, she said.
    Jimenez married at 18, had four children and set her educational goals aside, she said.

    As her children got older, she decided to pursue her dream of becoming a hospice nurse by attending Hesperia Adult School, where she received her high school diploma in 2017.

    Two years later, she began coursework at VVC and is expected to receive her associate’s degree this semester before entering the school’s nursing program.

    “After I get my associate’s degree, I’ll work toward my nursing degree at VVC before I start studying for my bachelor’s degree at Azusa Pacific University,” Jimenez said. “Every day, I’m one step closer to achieving my career in hospice.”
    Jimenez said she knows that working in the medical profession will be a rewarding career that won't be without its challenges.

    “It was difficult, but I learned a lot after caring for a friend who recently passed away from brain cancer,” Jimenez said. “Caring for someone in their last days is a beautiful thing.”

    Jimenez and her husband, Edward, have four children ages four to 15.
    A salute to heroes
    During the virtual ceremony, Desert Valley Hospital and Desert Valley Medical Group CEO Fred Hunter said that, similar to last year, the COVID-19 pandemic made 2021 a challenging time.

    “Our perseverance and resilience have guided all of us in health care to come together as one for our communities,” Hunter said. “Heroes are what we were called and heroes are what we became.”

    Hunter said more heroes want to serve based on the increase of scholarship applicants.
    “To all of you continuing to pursue a career in health care — no matter what comes your way, no matter what you face — we need you, and we thank you,” he said.
    Other speakers included co-foundation founders Dr. Venkamma Reddy and Director Sunitha Reddy, who spoke of the scholarship recipients by saying, “We’re seeing a common thread that should be celebrated, a relentless commitment to healthcare and a sincere desire to help others.”

    She said that in the aftermath of the pandemic, health care workers continue to be on the front line as they caring for patients.
    Dreams come true

    VVC nursing student and scholarship recipient Daniela Gonzalez-Negrete congratulated her peers, saying that through hard work they are getting closer to accomplishing their dreams.

    Gonzalez-Negrete, who said she’s always dreamed of a career in medicine, admitted that being an undocumented immigrant meant being unable to land a good-paying job.
    Through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy (DACA), she was able to stay in the U.S., and she soon began volunteering at Desert Valley Hospital, where she was inspired to pursue a career in nursing.

    In 2012, the secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the U.S as children and meet several guidelines may request consideration of deferred action of removal for two years, subject to renewal, according to the U.S. government.
    Through DACA, those coming to the U.S. are also eligible for work authorization, but it does not provide lawful status.

    Gonzalez-Negrete said losing multiple family members to COVID-19 solidified her pursuit of a career in nursing.
    “As a dreamer, I was unable to travel back to my home country of Mexico and be with my loved ones in their final moments,” she said. “But I am forever grateful to the people who cared for them and the nurses who ensured they were comfortable as they left the world.”

    She closed by saying, “Life is too short to do anything other than what you absolutely love. If you find that your heart lies in the medical field, whichever area it may be, keep going.”
    District 33 Assemblyman Thurston “Smitty” Smith and Victorville Mayor Debra Jones recognized each scholarship recipient during the ceremony.

    The group included a variety of students from different backgrounds, from high schoolers entering universities, to single mothers pursuing careers in health care.

    “This year’s scholarship recipients have amazing stories of hard work and perseverance,” Sunitha Reddy said. “Each individual was selected for their passion to put others first, and a commitment to make lives and our community better. We are grateful for the opportunity to support their dreams and future in medicine.”

    Founded in 1994 by Dr. Prem Reddy, the foundation has awarded more than $1.4 million in academic scholarships to High Desert residents to date.

    This year's ceremony may be viewed on YouTube by searching “Dr. Prem Reddy Family Foundation 2021 Virtual Scholarship Awards Ceremony.”

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