JULY 2021

SJR State receives $13,000 from Putnam County Medical Center for nursing and allied health scholarships

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The St. Johns River State College (SJR State) Foundation recently received a $13,000 scholarship donation from Putnam County Medical Center (PCMC), bringing PCMC’s total contribution to SJR State to $150,000 since 2006. Annually, PCMC matches funds awarded to the College from Florida Blue, providing scholarships to students enrolled in SJR State’s nursing and allied health programs. To date, 336 students have been impacted as a result of this partnership.

SJR State Vice President for Development & External Affairs Caroline Tingle explained that in 2003, Florida Blue contributed $2.5 million to the Florida College Foundation to establish a statewide endowed nursing and allied health scholarship program. With matching funds from the State Legislature, a $5 million endowment was created to provide a sustained source of funding for student scholarships in nursing and other allied health programs at Florida’s colleges.

“This endowed scholarship has provided St. Johns River State College the opportunity and funding to award scholarships to our nursing and allied health students,” said Tingle. “The amount of funds awarded to Florida colleges is based on an equal minimum award, performance index and enrollment in the nursing and other allied health programs. The funds must be matched dollar for dollar by private donors at the local level.”

Members of the community and PCMC employees are eligible to receive this financial assistance for tuition, books and fees. Sheba Woolard, who works as a patient care technician at PCMC, is happy she can breathe a “huge sigh of relief” as a result of receiving this scholarship on her journey to advancing her career. Woolard has been accepted into SJR State’s Associate in Science in Nursing program.

According to SJR State Foundation Director of Fundraising and Alumni Engagement Brian Bergen, “We are always grateful for our employer partners that work with us to advance their employees’ careers through education. PCMC leadership has toured our facilities and is impressed with our nursing and allied health programs and the high quality of students we produce.”

PCMC Chief Executive Officer Mark Dooley added, “Our partnership with St. Johns River State College is an investment in the future of healthcare. We feel it is of critical importance to provide current and future nurses and other staff, opportunities to further their professional development. This helps to ensure our community will continue to have access to high-quality healthcare services today and for years to come. To know that our contribution could help further the careers of our colleagues, as well as others interested in the important field of healthcare, gives us great pride. We are grateful to SJR State for their continued partnership and all that they do to support our community.”

Although Bergen (1987) and Dooley (1988) graduated a year apart from the School of Business at Indiana State University, it wasn’t until working in Palatka that they met. Both are grateful for their respective roles in the PCMC and SJR State partnership, because “it’s a great opportunity to help others advance their careers with a local employer willing to help them,” said Bergen.

SJR State’s nursing programs include the ASN; Nursing: LPN Bridge to ASN; Practical Nursing; Nursing Assistant; and the Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The allied health programs include Emergency Medical Services; Emergency Medical Technician; Health Information Technology; Paramedic; Radiologic Technology; Respiratory Care; and Medical Assisting. For more information, visit

Putnam County Medical Center (PCMC) donates $13,000 to St. Johns River State College (SJR State), matching funds awarded to the College from Florida Blue. This fund provides scholarships to students enrolled in SJR State’s nursing and allied health programs.

L to R: Natalie Park, PCMC chief financial officer; Mark Dooley, PCMC chief executive officer; Sean McAfee, PCMC chief nursing officer; Brian Bergen, SJR State Foundation director of fundraising and alumni engagement; and Rick Waters, PCMC vice president of Human Resources.



Susan Kessler
Director of Public Relations and Publications
(386) 312-4020