Rosa Valdes wants to emulate her father, Albert, who has taught her the value of service, selflessness and caring for family.
That’s why she is attending a 16-month accelerated nursing program at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Manchester, N.H. The California resident is staying with family in New Hampshire to save money. Still, she needed scholarships to defray the cost of her education.
The American Legion Legacy Scholarship paved the way for Valdes to continue her education after she received an undergraduate degree in public health at the University of California at Berkeley.
“When I found out that I received the Legacy Scholarship, I was completely mind blown,” she said. “It was something I had to re-check multiple times and I talked to my dad about it. When it finally sunk in, I was thrilled. My dad’s response was pure excitement. He was so happy because when I got into school finances was one of the first concerns.”
The American Legion Legacy Scholarship is awarded annually to children of post-9/11 veterans who were either killed on active duty or who have combined a VA disability rating of 50 percent or greater. Scholarship applications for the 2020 year are available now and due April 15. Visit www.legion.org/scholarships/legacy.
After finishing the nursing program in December 2020, Valdes wants to continue her education at graduate school and eventually become a midwife.
“This scholarship has made a huge difference in the stress levels that I know I would have had if I had to pay completely out of pocket, especially knowing that I have two to three more years of school after this when I apply to grad school. I have a lot of plans and being in debt is not one of them.”
Without the scholarship, Valdes faced the prospect of attending nursing school and working full-time simultaneously. “I feel very blessed and lucky that I received the scholarship.”
Valdes’ ties with The American Legion run deep. During high school, her Junior ROTC program worked with a local post on various events and she also went to California American Legion Auxiliary Girls State in 2010. “The Legion supported my JROTC program quite a bit,” she said. “When I was looking at ways to fund my education, scholarships seemed quite limited. But The American Legion popped up. They do a lot to support military families.”
She says her dad is a natural leader who continues to help her.
“Because of him, I was able to go to school to begin with,” she says, noting that she used GI Bill benefits that he passed on. “He has always taken care of his family and he has always provided, starting when I was an undergraduate. Even now as an adult child he helps me where he can.”
Albert Valdes, a member of American Legion Post 31 in Salinas, Calif., served in the Air Force for 22 years.
“My dad has always been someone who always takes care of his family. I don’t tell him this but I think a lot of my best traits come from him. Outside of his service with the military, I have always seen him helping others and the way he interacts with people. He is a fun, warm, outgoing person who likes to take care of people. That is why I think that I want to take care of people in some capacity and for me that is going to be through nursing.”
The scholarship rekindles memories of high school for Valdes.
“I remember working with The American Legion and I remember them being so giving. I am so thankful to The American Legion and all those who have helped to create these scholarships because it is making such a difference for me. And I hope to one day make a difference to people in my community. I am eternally grateful for this opportunity that The American Legion has given me.”