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Orland Park woman earns scholarship to pursue nursing degree

La Grange – Michelle Rockwood has wanted to become a nurse since high school, when she observed the positive impact her grandfather’s hospice nurse had on her family. The certified medical assistant is now close to realizing that dream; she expects to earn her associate’s degree in nursing in May, five years after going back to school upon the encouragement of her supervisor at Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital.

In recognition of Rockwood’s commitment, the La Grange Memorial Hospital Foundation awarded the 35-year-old Orland Park resident a $2,500 academic scholarship. The Harold & Leona Ford Nursing Scholarship is available, on an annual basis, to one or two deserving full-time nursing students who meet the following requirements:

are in the final year of seeking an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing,
have maintained a grade point average of 2.5 or better,
will obtain an Illinois Registered Nurse (RN) license within six months of graduation,
are at least 18 years old.

This scholarship is made possible by the late Harold & Leona Ford through an endowed gift to Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital. Scholarships range from $500 to $3,500.

Rockwood, who returned to school while working full time, is pursuing her degree at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Heights. As a certified medical assistant, she serves as a direct link and communicator between the patient and other health care professionals whenever there is a need and works under the direct supervision of physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants to provide patient care. Certified medical assistants also perform administrative duties, including updating and filing patients’ medical records, filling out insurance forms, handling correspondence, scheduling appointments, and arranging for hospital admission and laboratory services.

She has worked at Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital’s Community Family Practice Center since 1997. Her supervisor, Diane Novak, persuaded her to pursue a nursing degree and even rearranged her work schedule to accommodate Rockwood’s class schedule.

“If it wasn’t for the support and encouragement from my boss, Diane, I never would have pursued my dream of becoming a nurse,” Rockwood said.