NOVA students Maxime Djabang Lakouji and Patrick Smith have many things in common. As students enrolled in the Nursing Program at the Medical Education Campus (MEC), both aspiring young men are employed as emergency medical technicians and are the 2017 recipients of the Harriet H. Fatzinger Nursing Scholarship.
The Northern Virginia Community College Educational Foundation and the College Financial Aid Office encourage students interested in health care to apply for the Harriet Fatzinger Nursing Scholarship. Each year the MEC Nursing Scholarship Committee selects two eligible full-time nursing students in need of financial assistance, with a minimum 2.5 GPA. The scholarships are awarded in memory of the late Harriet Fatzinger, a 1972 NOVA graduate, whose husband Dr. Glenn Fatzinger is an adjunct professor at NOVA’s Alexandria Campus.
Harriet Fatzinger was a volunteer candy striper at a local hospital before she enrolled in a 24-month nursing program at NOVA’s Annandale Campus. Lakouji and Smith received $1,000 each to assist with their tuition, textbooks and supplies as they continue on in their program at NOVA.
“Receiving this scholarship has been life-changing,” Lakouji said. “It’s simply amazing for someone to give us money toward an objective that really doesn’t affect them, but they still want to help. It truly shows us that there are still good people in the world.”
Lakouji currently serves with the 299th Engineer Company in the United States Army Reserve as a combat medic. A native of Cameroon, Africa, Lakouji made the decision at a young age to pursue a career in health care after experiencing harsh living conditions in his home country. At 12, he lost a close friend to meningitis and continued to witness the illnesses of others with infectious diseases. In 2013, Lakouji moved to the United States to continue his education and pursue a career as a critical care (ICU) nurse.
For the last 10 years, Smith has worked in Fire and EMS departments. His desire to move toward a career that allows him to be more involved in patient care stemmed from his previous work experience. As a military brat originally from Texas, his passion was to build therapeutic relationships with patients, which motivated him in 2015 to enroll in NOVA’s Nursing Program. Ironically, both Lakouji and Smith work for the same private medical transportation company, Physicians Transport Service (PTS) in Herndon, Va. Smith wants to become an emergency room nurse to further develop his involvement in health care.
“I love being a patient advocate,” Smith said. “After I graduated high school, I had a bad experience with a community college that caused me to paint all community colleges in a negative light. But NOVA has completely erased all of my preconceived notions. Since enrolling here, I’ve had phenomenal professors all across the spectrum and the facilities at the Medical Education Campus are great. I honestly couldn’t ask for more from a community college.”
For more information on the NVCC Educational Foundation, visit their website.