Tech. Sgt. Melissa Ward, Detachment 4, 375th Operations Group aeromedical evacuation technician flight instructor, was awarded the Brig. Gen. Carmelita Shimmenti Scholarship on Aug. 5, 2016 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
Created by Schimmenti, the first Hispanic female to attain the rank of brigadier general and former Chief of the U. S Air Force Nurse Corps, this financial needs-based scholarship helps support the Air Force Aerospace Medicine Service and Surgical Service personnel in their efforts to complete a nursing program.
Ward, who is currently enrolled in the Accelerated Licensed Practical Nurse to Registered Nurse program, said she received a call notifying her that she won the scholarship. Approximately one week later, $500 was transferred to her school.
“I feel very honored and humbled to have been selected for this scholarship,” said Ward. “It’s a huge relief to not have to worry about significant out-of-pocket costs for my nursing degree.”
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Ward said she felt confident with the package she submitted. It showed that she completed 61 credits with a 4.0 GPA and was accompanied with letters of recommendation from Col. Penelope Gorsuch, dean of USAF School of Aerospace Medicine, and Col. Kevin Poitinger, Air Mobility Command Director of Aeromedical Evacuation Operations. She also credits her success to the assistance of her leadership and nursing instructor.
“Since receiving my Community College of the Air Force degree in 2011, the Air Force will not further approve tuition assistance for a secondary associate degree program,” said Ward. “Receiving this scholarship has facilitated me in achieving my goal of becoming a nurse while mitigating the financial burden on student loans. I can better focus on my studies and my dream of being a nurse.”
Ward began her Aeromedical Evacuation career at Pope Field, North Carolina. She excelled ahead of her peers and was selected as a flight instructor. While at Pope Field, she was also selected as an instructor for Air Force Reserve Command AE formal training unit, Det. 1 Headquarters 440 OG.
Ward has completed the Victim Advocate certification course and obtained her Department of Defense Level 1 certification for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Victim Advocate at Wright-Patterson AFB. She also serves as the chair for Wright-Patterson’s Airman Against Drunk Driving. She works as a dispatcher, and manages a committee of 15 Airmen and volunteers for this program.