Nancy Padilla of Grossmont College (middle) is flanked by Grossmont Healthcare District board members Gloria Chadwick (left) and Michael Emerson (right).

Health Care District Awards Scholars

GROSSMONT COLLEGE -- The Grossmont Healthcare District (GHD), a public agency that supports various health-related community programs and services in San Diego’s East County region, has selected two Grossmont College students for its 2013 Health Tech Career scholarships. GHD’s annual scholarship program recognizes students pursuing careers in positions typically defined as medical technicians. Nancy Padilla, enrolled in Grossmont’s respiratory therapy (RT) program, and Travis Nickerson, studying to work as an occupational therapy assistant (OTA), each recently received a $2,000 scholarship, as recently approved by GHD board members.

 Padilla and Nickerson, both La Mesa residents, applied for the scholarships by writing a maximum 400-word essay on the topic “where I will be in my career five years from now.”

 After she graduates with an associates degree from Grossmont College, planned for 2014, Padilla wrote in her essay that she hopes to pursue a bachelor’s degree in RT with a focus on pediatric care. She wants to help children because her son, now age 7, was born four weeks premature with underdeveloped lungs and recovered with the help of a respiratory therapy program for infants.

 “I almost lost him only two weeks after birth,” Padilla said. “Now, I want to help educate parents and treat children who may be in the same situation that I was in when my son was in the hospital so that I can help ease their concerns and help them feel empowered and aware of how to treat this illness.”

 A native of the Philippines, Padilla has lived in the U.S. since January 1996. She began attending Grossmont College in 2009. Padilla and her husband, an elementary school teacher, also have a daughter, age 8. The family has lived in La Mesa for the past nine years.

 Nickerson, now in his second year in Grossmont’s OTA program, wrote in his essay that he expects occupational therapy will open additional doors for him in the medical field. “I see occupational therapy as a beginning for me to give back to those who are in need,” he wrote.

 A graduate of Helix High School (class of 2005), Nickerson attended San Diego State University and Grossmont College until 2008, when he moved to Northern California. He returned to Grossmont in 2009 and was enrolled in OTA prerequisite classes while working at restaurants.

 “I come from a long line of family veterans, and I’m interested in working with veterans and the military who have been injured in war,” said Nickerson. “I eventually hope to focus on amputees and prosthetic retraining as a way of giving back to those who have given some much. Everyone deserves a chance to live a fulfilled life after any tragedy, especially those who risked their lives so selflessly for the country.”

 The Grossmont Healthcare District, formed in 1952 to build and operate Grossmont Hospital, serves as landlord of Sharp Grossmont Hospital, including ownership of the property and buildings on behalf of East County taxpayers. The District is governed by a five-member board of directors, each elected to four-year terms, who represent more than 500,000 people residing within the District's 750 square miles in San Diego's East County. For more information about GHD, visit


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Tags: Grossmont College, Grossmont Health Care District, Nancy Padilla, Travis Nickerson


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