University of Puerto Rico student dreams of serving her community

One way to get there is with the help of a Presbyterian Scholarship for Undergraduates

by Blake Collins | Special to Presbyterian News Service

Nayomi Villanueva Cabán

When Nayomi Villanueva Cabán looks at the health care landscape, she notices a key concept missing — neighborly care. A junior studying at the University of Puerto Rico in Aguadilla, she is already looking toward completing an additional degree to help fill the void.

“My plans after I graduate from college are to continue my studies for a doctorate in pharmacy,” she said. “This has been my dream since I was eight years old.”

As the pandemic has shifted relevant and necessary attention to health care access and the ways medical information is publicly shared, Villanueva Cabán sees a clear role for her dreams and faithful witness. She says that while public awareness campaigns are critical, so are local community members who can speak about medical research and health care practices in terms the community understands and trusts.

“In this model, we can give the maximum care possible to help treat patients in the best way,” she said.

When people enter their local farmacia, Villanueva Cabán envisions them receiving assistance from someone rooted in the community who knows their name and their family. For her, the role of a pharmacist is not only as a medical professional, but as a trusted neighbor.

“People want to receive medications and information from someone they know, someone from the community,” she said.

As a member at Isabela Presbiterio Del Noroeste and active participant in her local church, Villanueva Cabán recognizes her capacity to be such a trusted figure.  She is a recipient of the Presbyterian Scholarship for Undergraduates. This scholarship provides financial assistance for up to 100 college students annually. The program provides students attending an accredited college or university up to $4,000, based on need. Students of color with additional needs are considered for supplemental aid.

Alongside her studies, Villanueva Cabán is enthusiastic about photography.

“Pictures can show us God’s Creation when we cannot express it with words,” she said. “They allow us to see the differences between the past and the present.”

Focusing in on the broad picture of health care, Villanueva Cabán keeps an eye towards God’s beauty within the community, hoping to be a faithful leader when intimidating pharmacy appointments and the lack of information are a thing of the past.

Students may apply for a Presbyterian Scholarship for Undergraduates for any year of college. The application deadline is May 16.

Eligible applicants are Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) members attending an accredited college or university in the United States. Students must be making satisfactory academic progress after the first year of college and demonstrate financial need. The essay question in each year of study explores aspects of vocation.

Applicants are encouraged to click here and read the guidelines before starting the application.

Applications are presented by Kaleidoscope. Upon completion of the Presbyterian Scholarship for Undergraduates applications, students will have opportunities to apply for other scholarships offered through Kaleidoscope.

In 2021, 257 students started applications. Awardees are selected by a panel of readers.

Learn more about the Presbyterian Scholarship for Undergraduates here.

 Interested in becoming a Presbyterian Scholarship for Undergraduates reader? Financial Aid for Service is seeking ruling elders, Christian educators, and teaching elders engaged in young adult and/or collegiate ministries to read applications in late June and July. Selection teams work online. Learn more here.

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