Sarah Carpenter is a firm believer in paying it forward, which is why she and her husband make it point to always give back to their community.
So, when Carpenter recently learned she was the recipient of the Fullerton Medical Scholarship Award, the Western Carolina University nurse practitioner graduate student said it was a result of her commitment to giving.
“I think in this time of COVID and all the struggles we’re going through, it kind of renews my faith in humanity that we’re all here doing the best we can for everyone that we can,” Carpenter said. “I have received previous scholarships for my undergraduate degrees, and my husband always find a way to make it so that we can give. I feel like part of the reason I was chosen was because we have a strong commitment toward paying it forward. That’s what this scholarship is based upon. You’re here in this community to be a part of this community and help uplift the community.”
The Fullerton Medical Scholarship Program was established by The Fullerton Foundation in 1985 to support the development of primary care providers in the Carolinas. The program seeks to improve the availability of primary care providers in upstate South Carolina and Western North Carolina by providing substantial tuition assistance to medical students and student nurse practitioners who intend to practice some form of primary care.
Carpenter is the second WCU family nurse practitioner student to receive the $20,000 award in the last three years.
Fall semester was her first in WCU’s nurse practitioner program, which is held at the university’s Biltmore Park instructional site in Asheville. Carpenter, who resides in Hendersonville, received a bachelor’s degree from WCU’s accelerated nursing program.
“I really found the professors and the leadership of that program to be truly committed to the students,” Carpenter said. “I have a professor, Dr. Tonya Shuffler, who I can call at 10 o’clock at night. They’re here to make sure that you succeed to be a part of this community to help uplift others because they themselves have been uplifted.
“I chose the program because it’s one of the most affordable in the country and one of the highest rated for the demographic that it is. And it’s right here in our own backyard. It makes sense for my family and our lifestyle. I have two twin daughters. They are busy. My life is very busy.”
Carpenter grew up wanting to be in the health care field and initially thought she would one day be a doctor. But as an undergraduate student, she realized she wanted to have a family and a career. Becoming a nurse practitioner allows her to have both.
“As a nurse practitioner, I can see an eight-month-old one patient and then the next patient could be octogenarian,” Carpenter said. “I really like that you have to be able to manage a lot of rolling balls in a lot of different directions. And you’re able to develop a relationship and meet patients where they are. With primary care, you get to build a relationship. You get to be invited into their life. That’s a very intimate role, but I’m glad and grateful to have the opportunity to provide that.”
Upon completion of the program, Carpenter said she would like to assist the growing migrant population in Henderson County.
“One area that’s close to my heart is reproductive health,” she said. “Henderson County has worked really hard with the United Way and Blue Ridge Community Health Services to make those inroads. I hope that I can join their ranks when I graduate.”
Location - Biltmore Park and Online
Time to Complete: 24-months, full-time
App Deadline: Feb. 15 (Fall)
Pre-Reqs: BSN, GRE/MAT not required
100% first-time pass rate for graduates