Matching grant challenge for medical scholarships

02/16/2017

A small scholarship program administered by the Coastal Health Alliance that supports young people interested in pursuing careers in health care may soon increase the amount of money it awards. Available to local high school students or employees of the nonprofit health center, the Lois Bailey Balken Scholarship began in 2006 and has since awarded over 50 scholarships totaling $27,850. The fund is named after Ms. Balken who, prior to her death in 2001, served as the center’s board president for a few years. In response to staffing shortages in health care statewide, Ms. Balken’s family, who live locally and in Seattle, has challenged the board to match a $10,000 gift to expand the scholarship fund. Jim Monson, a former board president for C.H.A. who currently sits on the board of the county’s Commission on Aging, fondly recalled Ms. Balken as an active member on the board. “She was a rather remarkable person,” he said. “She had been a model, a firefighter and an EMT. She did a little bit of everything.” Mr. Monson, who helps operate the program, said the debut scholarship in 2006 was awarded to a student pursuing a nursing degree who is now working at the University of California, San Francisco. Mr. Monson said that with the larger grants come tighter standards for interviewing and vetting applicants, such as requiring a letter of recommendation from the applicant’s references. Applications, available at coastalhealth.net, are due April 3 and include a short essay detailing education goals, past experience in the medical field and inspiration for pursuing a career in health care.