#BROOME24: Scholarships fueled Aishia’s dream nursing career – and inspired her to give back

Aishia Mortenson

Aishia Mortenson

Now a nurse herself, Aishia Mortenson finds herself quoting her SUNY Broome professors and using the knowledge she gained under their tutelage every day. “Well, Professor Rutherford said…” has crossed her lips more than once, she admitted with a smile.

These days she’s back at her alma mater, Vestal High School, as the school nurse, where she promotes building health, responds to emergencies and serves the student population daily – using the skills she honed in clinicals and the classroom.

“We do assessments all day long. We have to figure out, ‘do you have a math test, or strep?’” she related.

Aishia earned her Associate’s in Health Science in 2014 and in Nursing the following year. Like many SUNY Broome students, Mortenson wouldn’t have been able to achieve her academic and career goals without the generous support of donors.

“I definitely wouldn’t have made it through if it wasn’t for the scholarships I received, and I know numerous students that also applies to,” said Mortenson, who received the Second Chance scholarship and other awards through the Broome Community College Foundation. “I wouldn’t have gotten into nursing school.”

Getting involved

Like many adult learners, Mortenson chose to return to school after her position was eliminated by a previous employer. She weighed her option: Look for another job in the human services field, or pursue her long-term goal and seek a degree in nursing?

She decided to go back, even though a decade had passed since the last time she sat in a classroom. It proved to be an amazing experience on many levels, from the “phenomenal advisor” who pushed Aishia and helped keep her on track, to inspiring professors and friendships that last until this day.

Mortenson also became involved in student government, serving on SUNY Broome’s Student Assembly and the Student Assembly for the entire SUNY system, where she represented community colleges and had the opportunity to meet the SUNY Chancellor and other administrators. She also served on the college’s Board of Trustees as the designated student member. It wasn’t just a ceremonial position, either.

“I was a full board member, and they really took into great consideration the student perspective,” she said of her experience as student trustee.

During her days on Student Assembly, she also helped developed the Civility Statement and is gratified to see it posted on campus today. They goal, she explained, was to boil the statement down to a number of key commitments that relate to all aspects of campus life.

Mortenson was the recipient of scholarships – and also helped established the Peer to Peer Scholarship during her time as a SUNY Broome student. She and fellow Hornets raised funds through a variety of measures, from t-shirts sales to persuading SUNY Broome President Kevin Drumm to good-naturedly take a pie in the face, and a committee selected the recipients. The scholarship is open to all students by design, with no requirements as to major.

“I want to make sure it continues. It’s inspiring to be able to help somebody else,” she said.

Professionally, Mortenson loves working as a school nurse. Her longer term goals include becoming a nurse practitioner, focusing on family practice with a certification in mental health. That will wait for a few years, though; right now, she enjoys being the mother of a toddler.

She reflected on the importance of generosity and giving – whether donors able to make an estate gift that funds dozens of scholarships, to students who help one of their own by purchasing raffle tickets and running bake sales. It all matters.

“In order to build our community, you have to give back to the community,” she said.

How to help

We need you to make the 24 Hours of Giving a success! Visit www.sunybroome.edu/broome24 to make a gift at any time; you don’t need to wait for midnight on Nov. 28! Give $1, $10, $1,000 – all amounts are accepted and appreciated.