Hale Family Sunflower Promise Scholarship

A Huge Impact on Kansas

Wendy Gong

When the Hale family imagined the impact a scholarship could have on a community college student’s life and the state of Kansas, it was with a recipient like Wendy Gong in mind.

Gong, who earned RN and LPN degrees at Butler County Community College, knows rural Kansas needs nurses. She has seen firsthand how lack of access affects the health of Kansans. And she plans to start her nursing career doing something about that.

“I love Kansas and I think it is a very special place,” Gong said. “I wasn’t born here, but I’ve lived here for 10 years. It’s made a big impact on my life.”

With the help of the Hale Family Sunflower Promise Scholarship, she hopes to start her career in rural Kansas. She said that was why she applied for the scholarship, which for two years is helping fund her BSN degree at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Mollie Hale Carter, Sunflower Bank president and CEO, said her family set up the scholarship through the Foundation to “make sure that people who want to have an impact on Kansas are not stalled by financial need.”

“One of the great assets we have in Kansas is our community college system, which helps keep the economic picture more vibrant in rural areas,” Carter said. “A lot of people who attend community colleges tend to go back to smaller communities and make meaningful contributions with their education and experience.”

The scholarship already has provided benefits for Gong. She is funding her education on her own, and the scholarship helps her focus exclusively on her education. Before earning the scholarship, Gong worked 12-hour night shifts as a nurse’s aide so she could go to classes. With scholarship support, Gong not only earns excellent grades, but she was free to take advantage of an unpaid Rotary New Generation Service Exchange internship in Taipei, Taiwan. This summer, she worked at a mother-baby center and at a clinic learning about labor and delivery and how health practices differ in Taiwan.

When she graduates in May 2017, Gong plans to seek employment where Kansas communities need her most. “I love that in small towns in Kansas, as nurse or healthcare provider, you can get to know your patients on a personal level,” she said.

Carter said her family and Sunflower Bank intended the scholarship to have a significant impact as it annually awards between $5,000 and $10,000 to students with at least a 3.0 GPA who have demonstrated leadership, commitment, and potential for betterment of Kansas while at community college. “We wanted this to be a meaningful financial scholarship,” Carter said. “The size of the award reduces the number of people we can touch, but we are looking for people who will have a huge impact on Kansas.”

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