CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Jo Ann Jimenez could hardly contain her emotions as she waited for a special announcement that would drastically change her life.
Jimenez, a mother of six, was 19 years old when she started her family. For years, she worked persistently to get her nursing license so that she could help patients. It's something she had always wanted to do.
She eventually became a registered nurse, but there was one more goal left for her to achieve: her Bachelor's Degree in Nursing.
"I've worked hard and had to sacrifice a lot to get where I'm at," Jimenez said. "It's taken me quite a while to go back to school and, you know, finally do it for myself."
One day, Jimenez inquired about a nursing scholarship offered by the veterans group 40 & 8. She ultimately applied. Some time went by before she found out that she was a finalist.
Then, on Tuesday morning, the group asked her to attend the Veterans Round Table Corpus Christi, where she was formally presented her scholarship check.
"I was so excited," Jimenez said. "It's a privilege to be able to receive something and just them giving continuing to give after they've already served their time."
David Rabius, a member of the group, said Jimenez stood out as a candidate.
"She had worked very very hard to get where she was, so that was one of the things that we looked at the need for the scholarship to make sure that she got through," he said.
The group 40 & 8, a national group, began offering nursing scholarships after World War II when the country was suffering from a nursing shortage. It's much like what we are seeing today mostly because of COVID-19 pandemic burnout.
"They (members of 40 & 8) were veterans themselves and, basically, being veterans, they wanted to help out the community," Rabius said.
Jimenez believes there's something else special about the gift she has been given. Her father, who died a few years ago, was also a veteran — just like those who presented her nursing scholarship.
"He would be very proud, always, because he's always encouraged me to succeed and continue my education," she said.
In the meantime, the Jimenez family continues to give back: Two of her daughters are following in her footsteps into the nursing profession.
"I want them to succeed as well," she said. "I'll do whatever I can do to help create better lives for our generation to come."
If you or someone you know would like to apply for a nursing scholarship from 40 & 8, contact David Rabius at (361) 549-5725.