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Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship: Winner Hopes to ‘Change face of Health Care’

Patience Marks ’15: “I know that all things are possible with faith, dedication, determination and perseverance.”(Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

By Rosanne Pellegrini | Chronicle Staff

Published: Feb. 25, 2014

“I know that all things are possible with faith, dedication, determination and perseverance.”

With these words, junior Patience Marks accepted her award as winner of the 2014 Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Scholarship, held earlier this month in Robsham Theater. The 32nd annual ceremony also featured a talk by John H. Jackson, president and CEO of the Schott Foundation for Public Education.

This latest accolade for the Connell School of Nursing student adds to her already impressive record of scholarship, achievement and volunteerism. An undergraduate scholar in the Keys to Inclusive Leadership in Nursing (KILN) program, Marks also is a peer advisor. As a freshman she served as a representative in the African Student Organization, and the following year participated in the Multicultural Leadership Experience Program.

“Seeing the other finalists,” Marks said, “I knew that even if I wasn’t chosen as the winner, I would be satisfied because those young men and women are fantastic individuals. The service that they’re engaged in, their academic excellence – and the change they too want to make in the world – are as important as mine. We are all fighting for the same cause, and for that I knew that we were all winners.”

[See separate story to read about the other Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship finalists]  

Born and raised until age six in Liberia, Marks came to the United States with her family in 2000, and settled in New Jersey.
“Coming to America was one of the biggest educational opportunities and provided me with limitless options and roads to pursue my dreams,” she said. Determined to succeed from a young age, she persevered academically and went on to attend a charter school, win a scholarship from the Wight Foundation to attend Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall, a boarding school in Waltham, Mass., and gain acceptance to Boston College.

Her pursuit of a nursing career, she said, was prompted by what she sees as “inequality and injustice is the health care system” and her determination to make a difference in the field. After graduation, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in nursing while working as a nurse, and aspires to collaborate with other health care professionals to establish an improved health care environment that will enhance patient treatment regardless of economic, racial or social backgrounds.

She also envisions opening clinics in the US and abroad to serve underrepresented populations to provide not only health care, “but also programs to teach patients about health maintenance.”  

A believer in the concept that “knowledge is power,” Marks describes her calling as “to be an educator, because I can make the most difference in correcting injustices and inequalities.” Her on- and off-campus service work is “grounded in educating others, because education is the key foundation in changing the injustices within American society.”

Through the PULSE program she has volunteered at Rockwell House, for patients dealing with drug addiction and HIV/AIDS, which inspired her to join the Peer Health Exchange to teach lessons on prevention in Boston-area high schools. During breaks, she volunteers as a teaching assistant at an elementary school in her hometown of Newark, NJ, and she currently is a volunteer research assistant on a project examining the impact of urban literature on teenage girls. In April, Marks will be inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International Alpha Chi Chapter Honor Society of Nursing.

“I am extremely thankful for both the support of my immediate family and my CSON family and friends, especially the KILN program. Both have [provided] outstanding resources and support in nurturing my growth, independence and leadership skills,” said Marks, who offered her gratitude in particular to Connell School faculty members  Judith Vessey, Allyssa Harris, Melissa Sutherland and Jean O’Neil “for being such amazing mentors and confidantes.”  

In addition to other supporters, Marks expressed thanks to “the MLK board and committee for this wonderful opportunity, for which I am truly grateful.  

“Being recognized as the 2014 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholar means that my fight to change the injustices and inequalities in the world continues. It means that I took another successful step in my mission, and with the support from this scholarship, the MLK committee, my teachers and my peers, I hope to one day change the face of health care.”