A healthy first

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Mokihana Club President Linda O’Neill, left, club’s co-chairs of the Nursing Scholarship Committee Rebecca Fries, second from left, and Terri Gately, far right, present the first $5,000 scholarship to Kauai Community College counselor Rhonda Liu, center, and bachelor’s degree in nursing candidate Cara Kruse, second from right, during the club’s meeting Wednesday at the Lihue Parish Hall.

When Cara Kruse of Kalaheo walks in the commencement exercises in May, she will be receiving her bachelor’s degree in nursing with the help of a $5,000 scholarship presented by the Mokihana Club.

“I have the option of walking either on Oahu or here,” the senior said Wednesday at the Lihue Parish Hall. “I’ll probably be walking here because most of my family is here.”

Although the Mokihana Club has provided nursing scholarships for students at Kauai Community College for a number of years, Kruse is the first recipient of a new scholarship created by the club — a scholarship for a student working toward a bachelor’s degree in nursing in the distance learning program through the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

“This is because of the success of the Mokihana Club’s concert last year,” said Vera Benedek of the club. “The club’s nursing scholarship committee had sufficient money to offer a scholarship at this level while continuing to offer scholarships to students in the nursing program at the Kauai Community College.”

Benedek said it is becoming increasingly necessary for nursing students to obtain bachelor’s degrees because many hospitals won’t hire nurses without the degree.

KCC has 15 to 20 students each year in the nursing program, but few go on to obtain their bachelor’s degree in nursing. One of the reasons is tuition costs.

Kruse will be the 34th student to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing when she walks in May, said Rhonda Liu, KCC counselor.

Rebecca Fries, the club co-chair of the nursing scholarship committee, said Kruse is not a stranger to receiving Mokihana Club nursing scholarships.

“She is a Kauai woman who was inspired to pursue while watching the compassionate nursing care her mother and grandmother received,” Fries said.

Cruse has received two previous Mokihana Club scholarships, both for her studies in the KCC nursing program.

Since the club was established in 1905 under the leadership of Dora Isenberg and Elsie Wilcox, the Mokihana Club has provided nearly 100 scholarships worth nearly $250,000.

The Mokihana Club is a Kauai women’s service organization that was formed with the intent to “be a force of social change and cultural stimulation that would undertake civic development and improvement. Nursing and music scholarships are identified as a priority in the club’s by-laws.

While working on her BSN, Kruse is a caregiver providing home health services.

“I hope to become a mental health nurse,” the quiet young lady said. “I hope I can work here, or on Oahu — anywhere in the state. I don’t want to travel outside of Hawaii to work.”

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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