A desire to do all she can to help others be healthy motivates Stanislaus State freshman Natalie Vang to dream of becoming a nurse practitioner.
“All of my life, I have always spent time helping others,” said the Honors Program student and pre-nursing major who plans to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing. “I can help people as a nurse, but as a nurse practitioner, I can do much more. I can diagnose patients, prescribe medications and just do so much more to help someone.”
And while the COVID-19 pandemic has caused her some concern over the last two years, it doesn’t worry her enough to prompt her to rethink her plans to work in health care.
“There are always surprises that happen in life, and you never know what is going to happen the next day,” she said. “But I feel like I could work through a pandemic and be safe by taking appropriate measures, like gowning up and wearing masks.”
Vang, a resident of Merced, is one of three students to receive the 2022-23 Stan State President’s Central Valley First-Generation Scholarship, which will cover her tuition, books and fees for four years. Created by President Ellen Junn, the scholarship is awarded every academic year to a handful of students who come from the Central Valley, have demonstrated academic talent and do not have a family history of higher education.
The scholarship is important to Vang because without it, she might not be able to pursue her dreams.
“It is an honor to get this scholarship because it helps in so many ways,” she said. “It’s very life changing. It allows me to get the education I want and pursue the career I want to have in the future.”
Vang graduated from Buhach Colony High School in Atwater as a valedictorian with a 4.3 GPA, which qualified her to wear a white robe as a member of the California Scholarship Federation. She lives at home with her mom and has five siblings, four of whom are younger than her and range in age from 6 years old to a sophomore in high school. She is the first in her family to pursue a college degree and says she is motivated to do well in school to make her family proud of her.
She is also motivated by the fact that her younger siblings watch everything she does, and she wants to set a good example.
“I’m the role model. I have to set a standard and expectations for them because they look up to me,” she said. “I have to keep going and do well, not just for my future, but to help them. I want to encourage them to go to college and do well in their lives.”
Vang’s family is a key reason she didn’t leave the area for her college education. While still in high school, she became interested in Stan State because it was close to home, and she could attend classes without moving away from her family. When she learned that Stan State had an excellent nursing program that would enable her to achieve her dreams, she knew it was the school for her.
“When I saw the campus, I loved how it is modernized and thought it was just beautiful,” Vang said. “And with all the resources that are available, and the nursing program, I just knew I wanted to go to Stan State.”