Adventist HealthCare, a regional health system based in Gaithersburg, Maryland, United States, has selected the first recipients of its Lucy Byard Scholarship. Three highly qualified students attending area nursing schools each will receive US$20,000 and will be eligible to apply for an additional US$20,000 next year if they continue to meet the academic and need-based criteria.
The scholarship was created to help address racial and economic disparities in education and health care as well as acknowledge past injustice. In particular, the scholarship honors the legacy of Lucy Byard, who in 1943 sought medical care from the Washington Sanitarium in Takoma Park, Maryland, United States, the precursor to Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center. Because she was black, Byard was transferred to what is now Howard University Hospital (which Adventist HealthCare has helped to manage since February 2020). Byard died 38 days later. This scholarship is part of a set of equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives at Adventist HealthCare to reduce racial disparities.
“Adventist HealthCare’s mission could not be clearer: we extend God’s care through the ministry of physical, mental, and spiritual healing,” Adventist HealthCare president and CEO Terry Forde said. “We believe every human being, no matter their condition, gender, race, nationality, social class, or faith should be treated with respect and dignity. We commit to hold ourselves to the highest standards of conduct toward all people with whom we interact. It’s precisely that kind of care that Lucy sought out and, if she were to visit us today, she would be welcomed with respect and given excellent care.”
The Lucy Byard scholarship developed out of a workgroup especially formed to determine how Ms. Byard’s history could serve as an inspiration to develop skilled nurses who provide equitable care. The inaugural Lucy Byard Scholarship recipients are Tianna Lawrence, Howard University; Erica Martell, Stratford University; and Junior Philogene, Washington Adventist University.
All three students have overcome tremendous obstacles to achieve their dream of helping others, and all three are pursuing a career in medicine to lift others and to give back to their community. “Patients just want to be seen and treated with compassion,” Lawrence said. “They want someone they can trust … and I am devoted to being present for these people and dedicating my time and life to service.” Martell’s application included a similar pledge to provide high-quality, compassionate care with the affirmation, “I firmly believe that to ease the pain and suffering of another is the most honorable act I can achieve.” Philogene also expresses a desire to provide service to support physical, mental, and spiritual healing by explaining, “As a medical professional, I can ensure that people are healthy so they can have the opportunity to work towards their dreams, just like I have had that opportunity.”
Adventist HealthCare has pledged US$500,000 to the scholarship over the next five years. The General Conference and the North American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church each contributed US$150,000. The intent is to endow the scholarship through donations from individuals, business leaders, foundations, and other sources of charitable giving, having a two-fold effect of both helping specific individuals with their educational payments and positively affecting all the people these students will serve in their careers.
“Adventist HealthCare celebrates these outstanding young people, and we look forward to learning how their dedication to their community and their patients changes lives,” Forde said.
About Adventist HealthCare
With 110 years of history, Adventist HealthCare is one of the longest-serving health systems in the Washington, D.C. area. The comprehensive system includes three acute-care hospitals, rehabilitation, primary and specialty care, mental health services, home care, and imaging services. With more than 6,500 team members and more than 50 locations, Adventist Healthcare’s nationally recognized services include maternity, heart care, joint replacement surgery, physical rehabilitation, and cancer treatment. Its mission is to extend God’s care through the ministry of physical, mental, and spiritual healing.