Edwards, Aguilar named healthcare scholarship recipients at SCC

Briana Edwards, an MLT student, and Olivia Aguilar, a nursing student, were awarded the N.C. Community College Foundation Health Careers Scholarship for the 2023-2024 academic year in the amount of $1,000 each. They are graduating in May 2024. 

Briana Edwards 

Edwards entered the MLT program at SCC in January 2022 after working in the veterinarian medicine field for several years. A close friend of Edwards’ recommended that she become a lab technician since she had years of medical work experience. Edwards’ favorite part of the MLT program is microbiology. 

“I love investigating organisms,” Edwards said. “Like, you start off with a tiny clue, and then you have to work it up and figure out what it is and what medications are going to work for the patient. It’s more about being a detective, and I love it.” 

When Edwards first started the program, she was not making grades up to her personal standard. Edwards’ explained that she and her husband came to a mutual agreement that she must stop working full-time and focus all her energy on schoolwork. Earning the scholarship helped lift a huge financial burden for her family, she said.  

“For me, if I can’t perform at a certain level on something, I question if I understand the material enough to apply it,” Edwards said. “If I’m going to go into a hospital and be expected to do testing on a patient and give accurate results, I want to know that I am capable of doing that.” 

Edwards commended SCC’s level of care in finding ways to help pay for her classes. Facing financial troubles with repairing her car, completing her clinicals with no pay and her husband working more overtime to make ends meet, Edwards said that SCC “always steps up” when students are struggling.  

“When Mrs. Kim Lowery called and said that I got the scholarship, I was like ‘Thank God.’ That was a nick of time thing because we were really strapped,” Edwards said.  

Outside of school, Edwards likes to read, play video games and play Dungeons and Dragons were her Bible study group from church. She attends Harvest Fellowship Church in Shallotte, where her husband, Hannan Edwards, is the associate pastor. They have one pit bull dog named Clark. 

Olivia Aguilar 

Aguilar started the nursing program in August 2022. Her love for nursing started at 7 years old when she had a medical procedure. 

“I just remember the nurses on the unit being so sweet to me, and I just knew that is what I wanted to do when I got older,” Aguilar said. “I’ve always thought back to that moment.” 

Aguilar explained that coming from a Hispanic heritage has taught her that women take care of the family. As the oldest child in her family, she said that taking care of people came naturally to her. She wants to be a nurse so she can help take care of people and “make a difference in other peoples’ lives.” 

“When you’re dealing with patients, you’re not just dealing with them, you’re dealing with their families too,” Aguilar said. “Learning about other people, their walks through life and their culture are definitely things I love about nursing.” 

Aguilar has learned that a career in nursing is “not always by the book.” She explained that no matter the amount of studying, homework, classwork and experience in the SimLab will compare to the live experience on a hospital floor. She said that nursing school has given her the best foundation to stand on when faced with ever-changing scenarios in a hospital. 

“In order for me to start this program, I had to lose a lot of things,” Aguilar said. “I had my own house and my own things, and I had to let go of them.” 

Aguilar said that to accomplish her long-term goals of paying for a house, a vehicle and having children one day, she had to move back in with her parents so she could focus her time on nursing school. After quitting her job of eight years at Walmart, Aguilar knew that a full-time job in nursing was worth the sacrifice.  

“All I could think about was everything I had lost, and now two years later, I am fixing to walk across the stage in May,” Aguilar said. “Honestly, it gets me emotional, and I think we’ve all been an emotional wreck this week. Winning this scholarship means a lot to me because I know what I sacrificed to get here.” 

Aguilar was grateful to have this scholarship to pay for books, tuition and unexpected costs with her car. Driving to Lumberton for her clinicals and relying on her parents to pay her bills gave her a new appreciation for the scholarship and the SCC Financial Aid Office. 

Outside of school, Aguilar’s favorite activity is going to Myrtle Beach and Ocean Isle Beach, where she walks her dogs, reads books and swims during the summer. Aguilar loves to cook and feed her family.