By Joni Burton, CEO, JVS Career Services
“It’s never been a question ‘if’ a college education would happen in my family. It was always assumed that I was going to go to college,” explains 30-year-old Tamara Zmood.
The critical question for her and her sister, who, along with their parents, immigrated to Cincinnati from the former Soviet Union, was how that college education would be funded.
“Ever since my family immigrated to the United States, financially, it’s always been a challenge. And I knew going in, that wherever I decided to go to school, I would have to figure out how to pay for it myself,” she says.
That conundrum, which always seemed a distant dilemma, became a concrete hurdle in May of 2004, when Tamara graduated from Kings High School and was staring down the expenses associated with attending the University of Cincinnati that fall.
“My parents, bless their hearts, wanted me to have that authentic ‘living on campus’ experience, and they were able to take out a few loans to make that happen,” Tamara says. The rest was up to her.
Fortunately, her mother had heard about the Hilb Scholarship. Offered by JVS Career Services, the Hilb Scholarship Fund is designed to help students overcome the financial challenges of a post secondary education. Over the course of the next ten years, Tamara was awarded $15,760 in five Hilb scholarships.
Now that her bachelor’s degree in nursing is behind her, Tamara is hard at work earning her master’s degree to become a nurse anesthetist. She says the Hilb scholarships allow her to focus on what’s most important.
“We’re not allowed to work while in this school program, because the schedule and the program are so rigorous,” Tamara explains, detailing her fifty-hour-week class schedule and an additional clinical rotation. “The scholarships from JVS Career Services have allowed me to really focus on my studies, because I have this tremendous responsibility of taking care of patients when they’re in some of the most vulnerable times in their lives. They’re relying on my abilities and my knowledge to get them through those times safely.”
While Tamara has been busy supporting her patients, she says JVS Career Services has been there to support her, in scholarships, and beyond.
“They’re always so supportive, and if they can’t help you, they’ll point you in the direction of other resources that can help you achieve your goal,” Tamara said. “If you show them that you want an education, and you’re willing to work hard, they’ll support you and help you figure out how to get one.”
Tamara is on track to graduate with her masters in December. Once she has her degree, she’ll set her sights on her next goal: giving back.
“The last ten years of my life have been focused on finishing my education. My ultimate goal is to be able to give back to my parents and support them for everything they’ve done for my sister and I. Once I have that done, I will be trying to figure out how I can start giving back to the Jewish community for all they gave me over the years,” Tamara says. “My dream is to give back to another student in the way that the Hilb Scholarships have been able to help me.”
She’s talking, of course, about her education. Her future as a nurse. It’s what her parents wanted for their children. It’s why they left the former Soviet Union, in search of a better life.
“That’s what the scholarships mean to us. They’ve allowed my parents’ dreams for my sister and myself to come true.”