Home > Blog > January 2016 > Pima Medical Nursing Student Wins Christopher J. Eaton Memorial Scholarship

Pima Medical Nursing Student Wins Christopher J. Eaton Memorial Scholarship

Posted: January 22, 2016 by Elizabeth Baker

MESA, Ariz. (Jan. 22, 2016) – Daryl Wilhelm, a Pima Medical Institute nursing student from San Tan Valley, Ariz., was awarded the Christopher J. Eaton Memorial Scholarship this month. The $5,000 scholarship is provided by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES), which will award him the funds during a Feb. 26 event in San Antonio, Texas.

Wilhelm, a father of five and U.S. Air Force Gulf War veteran, said the money will help with numerous needs, including the $500 fee required to take the NCLEX-RN exam after he graduates in May.

“This will pay for my last semester and the exam,” Wilhelm said. “I was really surprised and honored to be nominated. After I graduate, I want to contribute and make a difference.”

Pima Medical Institute Nursing
Daryl Wilhelm, Pima Medical Institute nursing student at the
Mesa, Ariz., campus, studies in the school's lab.

According to ABHES officials, the scholarship is meant to recognize students who display a high level of integrity and perseverance in school and in life, and Wilhelm exemplified those qualities.

After leaving the Air Force, Wilhelm helped support his family by working in construction, but making ends meet was a challenge. While he was enlisted, he worked as a medical technician in a hospital, and he enjoyed it. Even years after being away from healthcare, it still called to him.

“I don’t think I chose nursing. Nursing chooses you,” Wilhelm said.

After exploring different nursing schools, he chose Pima Medical. While visiting the Mesa campus, he was struck by the instructors’ commitment to students. It made a real impression, he said.

“The big thing that caught my eye was that Pima stresses that not only you but the family that depends on you, be totally on board with your decision to enroll, because it becomes a huge part of your life,” he said.

“They wanted me to take responsibility for my life. They told us, ‘we take care of our own, but you must take responsibility for yourself,’” Wilhelm recalled.

The 52-year-old found that message inspiring and unique to all the other schools he’d visited, and Pima Medical became his top choice.

After he began classes, Wilhelm faced several challenges, including family illnesses, the death of his grandparents, financial struggles and hefty car repairs. During his second year, he became ill with pneumonia twice, requiring hospitalization.

But Wilhelm didn’t quit. His tenacity, along with his family, community and instructors, helped get him through the tough times.

“Many students experience hardships while in nursing school. But if you had to pick one student for their persistence and perseverance, it most assuredly is Daryl,” said Pima Medical Institute Nursing Program Director, Sharon Caves, who nominated Wilhelm for the scholarship.

On Feb. 26 Wilhelm will receive his scholarship funds during ABHES’ 13th annual National Conference on Allied Health Education. The scholarship was named after Christopher J. Eaton, an 18-year ABHES staff member who passed away in 2013. Eaton was the organization’s associate executive director, joining ABHES in 1995.

To learn more about ABHES and the Christopher J. Eaton Memorial Scholarship, visit www.abhes.org. Pima Medical offers an associate degree in nursing and an online RN to BSN program. More information about both may be found at pmi.edu.

The Arizona Board of Nursing’s most recent rankings placed Pima Medical Institute’s Mesa nursing program at number two in the state.  

“We spend as much time helping the students outside the classroom as we do inside,” Caves said. “For the two years of the program, we are their family, their biggest supporters, and the setter of the highest expectations for them. We refuse to allow them to give up.”

Media Contact                             
Elizabeth Baker
Public Relations and Communications Specialist

About Pima Medical Institute
Pima Medical Institute is a private, accredited school dedicated to provide students classroom studies paired with real-world training at medical facilities. Established in 1972, Pima Medical Institute helps students become career ready, focusing exclusively on health care professions, including medical, dental, veterinary and nursing fields. Curriculum includes certificate, associate degree and bachelor’s degree programs, ranging from nursing, medical assistant and radiology technician to veterinary assistant and dental hygienist.
Pima Medical Institute operates 16 campuses as well as an online division. The medical career college has a presence in eight western states with ground locations in Albuquerque, N.M.; Tucson, Phoenix and Mesa, Ariz.; Denver and Colorado Springs, Colo.; Seattle and Renton, Wash.; Las Vegas, N.V.; Houston and El Paso, Texas; Chula Vista, Calif.; and Dillon, Mont. For more information and a complete list of programs offered at each campus, visit pmi.edu or call 1-888-442-5998.

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