UCLA Nursing student Yazmin Vitela

Yazmin Vitela, a first-year graduate student in UCLA Nursing’s APRN program, has received the Geraldine “Polly” Bednash Scholarship, presented by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and CastleBranch.

“It is such a great honor to be selected as the recipient for this scholarship from the AACN Foundation,” Vitela said. “This award will aid toward my success in the UCLA School of Nursing, which will help expand my knowledge and skills toward becoming a Nurse Practitioner.”

Like many in the profession, Vitela says she was called to nursing after seeing the personal impact health care workers can have on their patients. In high school, Vitela’s best friend was diagnosed with cancer, inspiring her to become a volunteer at City of Hope. It was that experience, she says, that cemented her path to nursing.

Years later, however, as Vitela prepared to begin a nursing program in northern California, her father was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Again, she shifted her focus to care for her loved one and put her dreams on hold. She says that while these experiences were incredibly challenging, they also helped mold her into a committed, passionate, and self-driven individual – attributes that continue to propel her forward in her career.

Now, Vitela is pursuing a master’s degree in nursing from UCLA, helping prepare her for a future as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse. She plans to focus her work on providing a holistic approach to patient care to help those she serves live healthier lives. Along with the Bednash Scholarship, Vitela also recently received the Suzanne F. Ward and Paul H. Ward Fellowship in the School of Nursing.

The Geraldine “Polly” Bednash Scholarship is awarded to two nursing students four times per year. It is named after Polly Bednash, the former executive director of AACN. The scholarship is designed to provide financial support to the nation’s top nursing students pursing a bachelor’s degree or higher.