Volunteer Opportunities Lead to Career Choice for Scholarship Winner

A mission trip to Peru changed Karis Wilson’s mind about her choice of careers.

“I had always wanted to be a lawyer, since I love to read,” said Wilson.  “After volunteering in a medical clinic in Peru, I realized how much I like to help people and how much they rely on and appreciate health care workers. Now I’m going into nursing.”

A 2018 graduate of Bluffton High School and Mennonite Memorial Home (MMH) employee, Wilson is the winner of the Barbara Fleming Memorial Scholarship sponsored by Mennonite Home Communities of Ohio (MHCO).  The daughter of Kent and Colleen Wilson of rural Jenera, she plans to attend University of Cincinnati‘s College of Nursing this fall, pursuing a bachelor of science degree in nursing.  This will be after a summer of second-shift, full time employment as a State Tested Nursing Assistant (STNA) at MMH.

Wilson earned her STNA license by attending classes from 7 a.m. – 2 p.m. for two weeks, followed by two days of clinical experience.

“During the school year I’ve worked part-time, mostly on weekends,” she added.  “This summer, I want to save money for college expenses, so I accepted a full-time position.”

Admitting that caring for elders was a little intimidating at first, Wilson is now comfortable and confident with her job and even moves to other floors when asked.  She stated that it’s all a matter of establishing a routine and getting to know your elders.

“I’ve learned patience, and how much a smile can mean,” she added.

Well-traveled for someone her age, Wilson doubts she’ll have a hard time adjusting to living on campus a few hours from home.  She has made four mission trips with her church, Zion Lutheran in Lima, to Peru,  Alaska, the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, and inner-city Detroit.  She’s also visited Chicago, New York City and her older brother, Chase, in San Francisco.  In addition to academics, volleyball and track at BHS, she also sings with the show choir, her church choir, and performed Handel’s Messiah with the Bluffton Community Chorus.  She would like to improve her piano skills and learn to play the cello when there’s time. She credits her love of music to her mother who is a “fantastic pianist.”

Winning the scholarship is very important to her, as she hopes to pay most of her own way through college and avoid loans if possible.  She has two older brothers, Chase, and Clayton, a student at Marian University in Indiana.  “We all worked during the summer,” said Wilson.  “This is the first year I worked during the school year, but I’ve always worked in the summer. I want to pay for school on my own if I can.”

The Barbara Fleming Memorial Scholarship is a $500 award to an MHCO employee pursuing a degree as a licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, a bachelor of science or master of science in nursing.  Fleming, a resident of Mennonite Memorial Home from 1997-2000, was trained as a nurse and throughout her life exhibited the caring nature that characterizes the nursing profession. Mennonite Home Communities of Ohio is pleased to support an employee who also personifies that same caring nature.

“After completing my BSN, I plan to work for a few years and obtain a master’s degree in order to continue my education as a nurse practitioner,” Wilson exclaimed.  “I guess you can say I have big dreams!”