For DonorsFor Applicants

Nancy B. Shirley Memorial Nursing Scholarship

4 winners, $2,500 each
Application Deadline
Apr 30, 2024
Winners Announced
May 31, 2024
Education Level
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Education Level:
Undergraduate student
Field of Study:
School Names:

To honor the legacy of Nancy Balmediano (“Nance”) Shirley’s life, Nance’s husband, William David (“Dave”) Shirley, and their “kids”, their Virginia Crew nieces and nephews (Romy, Jr., Krystal, Rachel, Desiree, Kiana, and Miguel, Jr.), launched this scholarship to provide tuition assistance to current college students pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree from her alma mater, San Jose State University; her Virginia nieces and nephews alma maters, George Mason University (Romy, Jr. and Miguel, Jr.), Virginia Tech (Rachel), Virginia Commonwealth University (Desiree), and James Madison University (Kiana); and an Arizona Crew niece’s (Maddy) nursing school, Northern Arizona University.  

Nance was so very, very proud of her “kids” and is now their guardian angel forever!

Nancy “Nana” Balmediano Shirley was the embodiment of perseverance, kindness, and generosity. Surrounded by her loved ones, she was peacefully guided to Heaven on May 31, 2023 at the young age of 60.

Nance and her siblings were awarded US Citizenship when she was 4, moving from her life’s starting point, Pasig Rizal, Philippines, after her father completed two consecutive combat tours in Vietnam. Her many childhood homes as an Army Brat included Texas, California, Germany, Colorado, Hawaii, and Georgia. She dearly loved her parents (Fred and Connie), her brother (Arnel), and her sisters (Sue, Amelia, Tess, and Amy). Nance had the strongest loving bond with Dave, her Virginia family, and Dave’s Arizona family. Nance loved taking up to 5 mile long walks with Dave. She was also a great baker and cook, meticulously planning and preparing to host her favorite holidays, Christmas and Easter.

Always pursuing her goals, Nance joined Army ROTC and graduated from San Jose State University with a BSN, commissioned as a US Army officer, fulfilling her dream to serve as an Army Nurse. During her senior year, she met Dave Shirley at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. Dave never left her side despite the long distances, and would soon become her loving husband at the West Point Catholic Chapel,the day after Dave’s graduation from West Point in May 1988.

She used her skills to light up many lives throughout various states to include civilian nursing assignments in Lawton, Oklahoma (Fort Sill); Tacoma, Washington (Fort Lewis); Indianapolis, Indiana (Fort Benjamin Harrison); and Fort Riley, Kansas. During her and Dave’s Army service and her career as a Registered Nurse, she focused on pediatrics, as her passion was serving kids in need. Captain Nancy B. Shirley served as an Army pediatrics nurse at Madigan Army Medical Center at Fort Lewis, Washington, after graduating from her officer branch basic course at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and the Army Pediatric Nursing Course at Tripler Army Medical Center at Oahu, Hawaii.

After Dave left active duty in 1995, Nance worked as a float pool pediatric nurse at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University. Her family migrated from California to Virginia in 2000, inspired by a trip to Washington, D.C. with Dave and her parents so her Dad could run the Army Ten Miler with Dave. The move’s purpose was to provide for better homes, neighborhoods, and schools for her nieces and nephews. Everyone lived with Nance and Dave while their homes were under construction, with each family eventually settling within a ten mile radius in the Ashburn, VA area. Nance willingly gave up her daily work as a nurse to turn all her attention to her sisters’ kids, “her’s and Dave’s kids”, pouring all her heart and soul into “making sure they’re all right before she leaves this earth”! Mission accomplished Captain Shirley!

This scholarship aims to honor the memory of Nancy B. Shirley by supporting students who share her passion for nursing.

Any undergraduate student pursuing an undergraduate degree in nursing at San Jose State University, George Mason University, Virginia Tech, Virginia Commonwealth University, James Madison University, or Northern Arizona University may apply for this scholarship.

To apply, tell us why you’re pursuing your nursing career.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Drive, Passion
Published January 10, 2024
Essay Topic

Please delve into the reasons why you are determined to pursue a career as a registered nurse (RN). Feel free to share personal experiences, motivations, and aspirations that have fueled your passion for nursing. Through storytelling and self-reflection, paint a vivid picture of how your desire to become a nurse has evolved and why you believe you are called to make a positive impact on the lives of others through this noble profession.

800–1600 words

Winning Applications

Diego Balbino
Virginia Commonwealth UniversityRICHMOND, VA
My entire life I’ve always had an interest in medicine, but when my ex-girlfriend was put in the hospital, I knew it was what I wanted to pursue. After watching the PICU nurses give incredible care, I recognized something very familiar in their actions. That would be the same compassion and abundant curiosity in the nurses that I saw in myself. They then allowed me to administer a blood thinner injection, which I would continue to administer daily for months after the hospitalization. I was extremely fascinated by patient care and inspired by the nurses' friendliness. They went out of their way to build a genuine connection with not only my ex-girlfriend but also me. Experiencing the kindness and compassion of the nurses contributed to me being able to provide that for someone else. I began my nursing journey by first completing a nine-month CNA course. During my highschool CNA program I was able to obtain 62 clinical hours (22 of which were voluntary) and build valuable lifelong connections with patients. All the while, I was able to maintain a 4.2 GPA, be involved in three different clubs, earn over 45 community volunteering hours, and work a part-time job. Managing this was not easy, though I was able to create a balance. My active engagement and work ethic has allowed me to efficiently navigate through my nursing degree and will help me be a better nurse. One of the most amazing things about the nursing profession is the sheer number of genuine connections you are able to build with your patients. In the time that I have worked as a CNA, I have been fortunate enough to come across hundreds of beautiful souls that have motivated me to be the student and CNA I am today. With that being said, I have also been able to make an impact in my patients' lives. For example, a resident and I would converse regularly about her sons and grandchildren, in which she stated that she, "hasn’t had a listening ear in ages”. This made me feel so special. The fact that I was able to make a resident feel like she was being heard by simply taking the time out of my day to talk about the people she loves. These experiences will help me with my future career in the nursing profession because it allows for my patients to be more comfortable with me and provides an increased satisfaction in patient care. Now that I am finishing up my second year as a nursing student, I can confidently say that this is my calling. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time learning about healthcare's unique atmosphere and all of the intricate details that come with it. I am incredibly passionate and excited to continue my professional career in nursing. Each time that I get to go into work or clinical I get reminded of why I chose to go down this path. Experiencing the bond that I have created with my patients is like no other, and I have a hard time imagining myself in another profession. I believe that I have been called to this profession for many reasons. To start, I am a very compassionate person. I care about each and every one of my patients and go above and beyond to ensure that they are properly cared for. For example, I have picked up hours when we were short-staffed to ensure that my residents were taken care of accordingly. Constantly checking up on my residents to make sure they were comfortable was one of many things I was complimented on by visiting family. Secondly, I am enthusiastic and full of charisma. One of the best feelings is when you get a nurse, or anyone for that matter that brings a positive attitude to the plate and brightens your day. I face all my patients with a positive and uplifting attitude. This can be very beneficial in both direct patient care and leadership roles. Charisma enhances communication, mood, and overall environmental status. Lastly, I have good decision-making skills. All nursing have the responsibility of making good decisions when it comes to their patients, time management, and self-management. I can weigh out options, plan them out, and effectively implement them if needed. These are just a couple reasons why I know I was, “made” to be a nurse. This scholarship would allow me to finish school and continue chasing my dream of being a nurse. Growing up with my parents being Brazilian immigrants, I have watched them sacrifice everything they could to give me a good life. Even still, we are struggling to give me the education that I want and need. This scholarship would allow me to better focus on my studies and relieve some of the financial pressure that comes with schooling. I will be able to devote more of my time and energy to my coursework and extracurricular activities, which would benefit me greatly. Being able to stay involved in extracurricular activities will allow me to develop new skills and make valuable connections. Without the financial burden, I will develop a deeper understanding of the nursing career. Although I have had lots of past experiences, I am always looking forward to new ones. For this reason, I have already begun engaging myself in healthcare clubs, workshops, and involving myself in the community by volunteering. Overall, my compassion, work ethic, and abundant curiosity will take me extremely far in my nursing career and I am immensely excited to be able to apply these characteristics to make a difference in lives.
Shiella Alvarez
San Jose State UniversityGILROY, CA
I was born and raised in Tondo, Manila, and migrated to the United States at the age of 9. My father worked abroad to afford a comfortable life for his family back home. My mother cared for and raised three daughters on her own. Being a single mother in one of the toughest parts of Manila is not an easy task. She strived to provide us with the best of what she could give at the time, and with the grace of God, her prayers for reuniting her family were answered in 1991. Living in the U.S. was particularly hard on my father as he struggled to keep a job. My mother saw the hardship and decided to apply as a CNA. Back then, all I remember is my mother working back-to-back 16-hour shifts to make ends meet. My mother soon became the breadwinner of our family as my father continued to struggle with employment. This frustration turned into blame, which quickly escalated to depression. My father was diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus in the late 90's which he completely disregarded. As his health deteriorated, my mother noticed mental changes that also took place. My father would forget what he was talking about mid-sentence and misplace his phone often. I sometimes found my father sleeping in my room as I came home from work, thinking it was their bedroom. I was not one to look to my parents for approval when I was younger. I obtained my GED 6 months after I was supposed to graduate because I chose to miss classes to hang out with my friends. I then took a year to work on accumulating enough money to pay for my college tuition as I knew my parents could not help me. I worked at a Neurobehavioral facility in activities as I took my pre-requisite to apply for the RN program at Ohlone College. As I was checking my laundry list of prereqs, I decided to apply for Mission College's LVN program as my best friend suggested. I was accepted on the first try and did not shy away from the opportunity. I finished my VN in 2006 and passed the NCLEX one month later. In 2011, my father was diagnosed with Dementia and soon after, was placed in hospice care. It was then that I saw my mother physically, mentally, and emotionally drained. She worked double shifts and then came home to take care of my father. She did this for as long as she could until she agreed to have my father placed in a skilled nursing facility for 24-hour care. I knew I wanted to be a nurse from the moment I saw the compassion and patience my mother has shown, not only her family but her patients. She enjoyed the friendships that she built with her co-workers and the culture that existed between them, almost like they were family. This connection and trusted relationship are what inspired me to be a nurse. I want to be able to connect with my patients so that years down the line, they will still remember that one nurse who helped their healing journey in an unimaginable measure. I worked as an LVN for years until I was ready to try and get into an RN program again. I had to re-take my core science classes as recency requirements differ for each school. Some have a 5-year recency, some 7 years and a few have no recency requirements at all. I've applied only at Mission College for years and kept getting rejected. I then started looking into more programs around the Bay Area and took the necessary classes to be eligible for each nursing program. I have taken both the TEAS and HESI exam so that I would be eligible for as many nursing programs as possible. I have to say, I was deterred by a lot of nursing counselors applying to their specific programs. As competitive as the programs are, most went by a lottery system in which, like the lottery, I would probably have a higher chance of getting struck by lightning than getting in their program. As I started to lose hope in getting into an RN program, I decided to apply to just one more, De Anza College. I was lucky enough to get on their waitlist at the end of 2019, only to have COVID hold me back another 2 years. I finally started the nursing program in 2021, being the only one with children in my whole cohort. At the time, my boys were 3 and almost 2 years of age. Everyone was so amazed at how I could manage to be a mother, work part-time, and still do nursing school. My reply to them was always "I'm in it to win it!"
Julia Hejl
Northern Arizona UniversityFLAGSTAFF, AZ
I have always felt a calling to serve others and impact their lives for the better. One of my earliest memories was helping and befriending a deaf girl at my preschool. I remember watching her mother and older sister drop her off and pick her up, seeing them use sign language and physical touch to communicate with her. I noticed how her sister was fiercely protective of her, and then I noticed how once her family left she would usually sit by herself, other kids coming and going once they realized she wouldn’t talk to them. I wanted to help and take care of her, and protect her as her sister did. I quickly became friends with her by sitting near her, and sharing toys, and pulling her up by her hands whenever music played to dance with her in the classroom. I’ve noticed how this desire to seek out and help others has continued to follow me throughout my life. Because of this, for the longest time, I believed I wanted to be a teacher. I have been lucky enough to have teachers who have been fun, patient and kind. But what stuck out to me about my teachers was the impact they have on their students. The connection they are able to make with their students can be one that changes the trajectory of their lives, that makes or breaks that time of their life. I want to be that person for others; support the ones who need it the most and be a warm and light presence in the lives of everyone else. My focus began changing from wanting to teach, to wanting to care for and support others through nursing after my freshman year of high school. 3 days after the school year ended, I had open heart surgery to replace a heart valve. I was born with a congenital heart defect that was corrected when I was 2. I have seen a cardiologist at least once a year since then, waiting until I needed surgery again. While I have always been intrigued and liked my cardiologists and the work that they would do, it wasn’t until after my surgery that I seriously considered working in healthcare. During my stay in the hospital, I was shocked at how uncomfortable, homesick and scared I was staying in the PICU alone at the “old” age of 15 years old. My mom is a single mom who works full-time to support my older sister and I, so she couldn’t stay at the hospital all day to be with me. I had my nurses for company. While I was very healthy going into my surgery, and therefore only spent 4 days there, I remember wanting to go home every single morning and night. I would watch the clock to see when my mom would be back. I can’t imagine how difficult and terrified I would be had I been sicker, or had I had to stay longer. The one positive of being in the hospital was my nurses (and fixing my heart of course). Each one was so very different, but they were all so amazing, patient, and kind. I still remember all of them very distinctly. My favorite nurse was named Jeanie. I liked the name because my grandma shared her name. In the beginning, I remember disliking her because she was direct. She would come into my room and scold me for not using the spirometer to help my lungs or come in insisting that I drink something of substance (like milk, not just water). At night, she sat at my bed and took the time to explain everything she was doing and what it’s used for because I was curious. I asked about her tattoo and she told me more about her life and family. She wouldn’t get upset when she would suggest I drink Sprite, bring it to me, and then have to go back for a different drink because I didn’t like the Sprite. She was only forceful because she was so invested in my health and wanted me to get better. When my family couldn’t be with me, the nurses were. Yet they didn’t just do their job, administering medicine and following doctor’s orders, they would stay longer than necessary to keep me company and check in at random times and give me encouraging words of support. The positive impact they made in my life and the care they gave me during my time of need is the reason why I want to be a nurse. To me, nursing has a similar, if not stronger, impact than teaching. Nurses have the privilege to comfort and care for people in their most vulnerable state. I will be able to walk out of my work every day knowing I helped someone and that I made a difference. And that is exactly what I hope to achieve in the profession that I chose. I hope to get to work in pediatrics. I would like to be able to build a relationship with my patients and know them intimately enough that I know exactly what I can do to make them smile and be a friend in an otherwise difficult and scary situation. For this reason, I am interested in working in inpatient oncology, as these patients are most likely the patients who will stay in the hospital for longer periods of time. While pediatric oncology will be heartbreaking to work with, I feel that I am called to help these people the most. Lastly, I have worked in different jobs in healthcare to support myself and be able to pursue an education in nursing. In high school, I got my caregiver and nursing assistant certifications so that I could work in different healthcare facilities throughout college and explore a career in the nursing field. In both jobs (caregiving and being a nursing assistant), I have worked with different minorities. Sometimes I would work with residents who only spoke one language, making it impossible for workers to communicate with these people without family members present or others who know the language. These residents would become withdrawn and isolated as they couldn’t communicate and socialize with others. When family came to speak to these residents in their language, their whole demeanor would shift and their faces would brighten. This is part of the reason that I am double majoring in Nursing and Spanish. I want to be able to connect with as many people as possible, and one of many barriers between myself and others can be language. By studying Spanish, this barrier can be eliminated and allow me to care for, and advocate for these minorities. I am very excited to pursue a career in such beautiful work and get the opportunity to care for patients and support their families.
Nadia Benazouz
George Mason UniversityWoodbridge, VA
A Journey of Resilience: My Path to Becoming a Registered Nurse at George Mason University Born and raised in a rural part of my homeland, where modern medical facilities were sparse and the local clinic was perpetually overwhelmed, I witnessed the stark realities of healthcare disparity from an early age. My community’s daily struggle, compounded by the lack of access to adequate health services, instilled in me a profound determination to seek change. This resolve led me to the United States—a place I envisioned could equip me with the skills and opportunities to make a substantial difference. The journey has not been straightforward. Adapting to a new culture was daunting. Language barriers initially made academic and social interactions challenging. However, these hurdles only deepened my commitment and adaptability, traits that are indispensable in the nursing profession. At George Mason University, I have found a nurturing environment that celebrates diversity and fosters academic excellence, allowing me to thrive and move steadfastly towards my goal of becoming a Registered Nurse (RN). My academic journey at George Mason has been rigorous and enlightening. Courses in anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology have provided me with a solid foundation in the sciences, while classes in patient care and ethics have prepared me for the human side of nursing. The comprehensive curriculum is designed to mold competent nurses who are not only skilled in healthcare practices but also attuned to the emotional and ethical dimensions of patient care. Clinical rotations have been particularly transformative. Each rotation, whether in geriatrics, emergency care, or pediatrics, has offered unique challenges and learning opportunities. For instance, during a rotation in the pediatric unit, I cared for a young girl with chronic asthma—a condition all too familiar from my childhood experiences. Teaching her and her family about asthma management not only helped improve her health but also empowered her family with knowledge, an experience that highlighted the broader impact nurses can have beyond direct care. My commitment extends beyond the hospital walls. Volunteering at local health clinics and participating in community health drives has allowed me to apply my skills in real-world environments. These experiences have not only been crucial in understanding the challenges of healthcare delivery in underserved areas but have also reinforced my resolve to pursue a career in community health nursing. Here, I can focus on preventive care, health education, and advocacy—key elements that can drive systemic health improvements. Further, these volunteer experiences have exposed me to the multifaceted role nurses play in health advocacy and education. One memorable project involved organizing a community health fair, where we provided basic screenings and health education. The overwhelming community turnout and the genuine gratitude of participants reinforced my belief in the critical need for proactive health outreach, especially in communities similar to where I grew up. In looking towards the future, I am particularly interested in how public health policies are crafted and implemented. My goal is to not only serve at the bedside but also contribute to policy discussions that aim to make healthcare more equitable and accessible. With this in mind, I have taken additional courses in public health and healthcare management, areas that I believe are crucial for the next generation of nursing leaders. The path to becoming a nurse is filled with challenges, especially as a first-generation college student and immigrant. Financial obstacles, in particular, have been a constant concern, threatening to derail my progress. This scholarship represents a critical lifeline that would allow me to continue my education without the overwhelming stress of financial constraints. More importantly, it would enable me to engage in additional learning opportunities such as attending nursing conferences and participating in advanced training workshops, which are indispensable for my professional growth. Winning this scholarship would not only alleviate financial burdens but would also affirm my hard work and dedication. It would provide the means to further immerse myself in community service and advanced studies, enhancing my ability to contribute effectively to the nursing profession. It would also be a beacon of hope and encouragement for my family, proving that perseverance in the face of adversity can lead to transformative opportunities and success. In conclusion, my journey to becoming a registered nurse at George Mason University is driven by a passion for healthcare born out of early life experiences in a part of the world where medical help was a privilege. It is fueled by the desire to bring about positive change in healthcare delivery through both direct patient care and broader public health initiatives. As I continue to advance my education and clinical training, I am committed to embodying the highest standards of the nursing profession, striving to make an impactful difference in the lives of individuals and communities alike. Winning this scholarship would be a pivotal step towards achieving these goals, empowering me to continue my journey with fewer financial worries and a strengthened resolve to succeed.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Apr 30, 2024. Winners will be announced on May 31, 2024.

This scholarship has been awarded, but we have hundreds more!
Find a perfect scholarship now