JoVan McClain always loved children.
“When my friends’ moms would have babies, I would always go to their houses and help out,” McClain, 19, remembers.
“I just fell in love with children. I always wanted to be a nurse, and then in high school I did a project where I had to make an incubator — one like neonatal nurse practitioners use — and it was so interesting.
“I knew that I wanted to work in the NICU.”
Now in her freshman year at Belmont University, McClain is so clearly in her element it’s hard to imagine this future wasn’t always within her reach.
“When I was really young, we used to drive by Belmont every day,” she recalls.
“It was such a pretty campus; I wanted to go there but I never had the chance to look into it.
“Then in my junior year, I heard they’d started this scholarship.
“I knew it was the right thing to do.”
McClain is talking about Bridges to Belmont, a program that offers full-time scholarships to students who might not otherwise be able to consider Belmont as an option.
Started in 2014, Bridges targets high-potential students from Metro Nashville Public Schools and covers all costs — tuition, room and board, fees — for four years.
McClain’s scholarship is also partially funded by the BlueCross Community Trust.
The diversity scholarships offered by BlueCross are designed to combat the fact that minority populations are under-represented in medical fields, and often lag behind in immunizations and other preventive health care.
Studies show people tend to feel more comfortable receiving medical care from people they identify with, so diversity in medical professionals is critical to population health.
“I saw my mom go through a bit of a struggle with health care; she just didn’t have access to it easily,” McClain says.
“That’s definitely one of the reasons I’d like to have my own practice some day and help out my community.”
Most of all, McClain wants to continue her family’s legacy of determination and drive.
“My mother is a single mother, and she graduated college a year before I graduated high school. She would be up all night studying, and it was a great thing to see,” McClain says.
“I’m the first one of my mom’s children to go to college, and I think that’s what inspires me:
“I want to make her proud.”