Wick News Service
The Copper Queen Community Hospital awarded its annual Brooks Nursing Scholarships Tuesday. This year’s recipients are, from left, Kristin Castro, Elisa Altamirano, Jennifer Forsythe, Staci Peralta and Reynaldo De La Torre. Mark Levy/Wick News Service
Each year, thanks to the generosity of Ted and Beth Brooks and their family, these scholarships are presented by the hospital to outstanding students who are selected by the college staff, explained CQCH CEO Jim Dickson.
The Brooks family established the scholarship fund after the elderly couple received nursing care there that they found to be exceptionally compassionate, continued Dickson.
The couple moved away, traveled the world, but then they decided to return to their native Bisbee in their later years, Dr. Ted Brooks, Jr., said. As time took its toll on them, they came under the care of CQCH and were very pleased to find the staff compassionate, professional and kind. It was due to the kindness they received prior to their deaths that they set up the scholarship fund.
Receiving the scholarships were Elisa Altamirano, Jennifer Forsythe, Kristin Castro, Reynaldo de la Torre and Staci Peralta.
All were surprised to find out they had been recommended for the scholarships since none of them knew about the fund or applied for them. This was all done between the faculty and hospital.
Peralta, who set a goal of becoming a flight nurse after graduating as a Registered Nurse, is a Bisbee native and a 2007 alumni of Bisbee High School.
“I was not one of those students who knew what career path to take. So I started out with basic education classes. Eventually, I realized that all of my classes I took an interest in all led to nursing,” said Peralta. “Although it is a very strenuous program that is not at all easy, I am happy to be where I am today and am thankful for the support I have had. Thank you so much for your support and for the investment you made in my career.”
Reynaldo de la Torre, a 47-year-old Douglas native who served in the U.S. Army and was a seasonal wildland firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service, felt a pull to continue to serve people through nursing.
“I’ve always known I would be a nurse,” de la Torre said. “It just took me longer to get started. It’s all in God’s hands and what he wants me to do. When I look back, it seems that serving others and having a cause greater than serving myself is what has driven me. I’m grateful for the scholarship. I didn’t see it coming.”
Jennifer Forsythe thought she wanted to be a veterinarian and after graduation from Douglas High School 10 years ago, she moved to Tucson and enrolled in the University of Arizona South as a pre-veterinary student. Three semesters of classes helped her realize that was not what she wanted to do, so she took some time off school.
“It took me a while to figure myself out and realized that my calling was nursing. I love helping people. I find the medical world fascinating and I want to be a part of making someone’s life better … It is my plan, once I am licensed to obtain a job somewhere in Cochise County,” Forsythe stated.
Kristin Castro was a stay-at-home mom who later worked helping people prepare taxes and worked with Rio Verde Realty. She wants to incorporate naturopathic care and wellness into her service of helping people.
“I fell in love with the sense of community in Bisbee 12 years ago while on vacation and decided I wanted to move there and raise my daughter,” explained Castro. “After much thought I decided that a career in nursing would be a great challenge and with the support of my family and friends, I’m two weeks away from completing my first year of nursing school.”
For Elisa Altamirano, taking care of others has always been a passion, especially adults with developmental disability and mental illness and addiction issues. So, she wants to specialize in psychiatric nursing and wants to be a nurse practitioner. Her goal is to work with the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System to provide care for military personnel who suffered post-traumatic stress disorder that results in addictive behaviors.
“Since I was a child, I would pretend to be a nurse and take care of my toys and pets,” continued Altamiro. “Naturally, I was attracted to the healthcare field and began working with developmentally disabled adults and mental illnesses who could not care for themselves … “
That led her to work at the Tucson Medical Center’s Palo Verde Psychiatric Hospital and the desire to help the country’s returning military personnel.
“More often than not, these people are dismissed as ‘crazy’ and left to their addictions that lead to death. I feel it is my calling to help people with these disorders and do my part to insure they receive the best care possible to make a positive difference in their lives,” she added.
Dr. Ted Brooks, Jr., told the scholarship recipients, “I received very little advice from my father. But, what he did tell me was: ‘Stay the hell away from hospitals and doctors.’ There’s a reason he told me that. We in the medical profession have the ability to create fear and a lack of understanding.
“So your assignment is to make sure that every day you go to work in this noble profession that you make sure that you don’t pass on the same advice that my dad gave me,” concluded Brooks.
Dickson encouraged them all to return to the CQCH to work once they had their degrees and were ready to begin their careers in healthcare.