Heroes of Compassion Annual Fund for Excellence Provides Crucial Support to Nursing Student Trennery Turner in Finishing Degree.
Volunteering is central to Trennery Turner’s life. After being introduced to service by her parents when she was a child, the New Mexico State University senior continued as a teenager to find ways to help those in need. Her commitment to offering her time and talent to others also helped her identify her passion to pursue a healthcare career.
Yet the Aggie faces challenges of her own as her parents face serious medical issues. While pursuing her college studies, Turner serves as a long-distance caregiver for her mother, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2018, and her father, who had a long hospitalization in the summer of 2021.
With medical bills mounting, the family is especially grateful for Turner's scholarship, which alleviates some of the financial stress of paying for college while her parents and student loans take care of her living expenses. Turner most recently received support through NMSU's Heroes of Compassion Annual Fund for Excellence, which was established in 2020 through the New Mexico State University Foundation to specifically help nursing majors who have financial need. “Now my parents aren't paying out of pocket for my school, so they can focus on paying their medical bills,” she said.
"The Heroes of Compassion fund has allowed the School of Nursing to double the number of scholarships to the students who need it most,” said NMSU School of Nursing Director Alexa Doig. “In many cases, the scholarships have been awarded to senior nursing students who have exhausted their federal financial aid and require some extra support to make it to the finish line. This fund recognizes nursing students and nurses as heroes whose compassionate care is vital to our healthcare system and New Mexico communities.”
Turner credits her parents, who were K-12 teachers, for instilling a powerful sense of service in her. “Growing up, I was in a lot of community service because my parents helped to run the National Honor Society,” she said. “I would be helping with all of the community service projects.”
As a teenager, Turner regularly volunteered in her community of Farmington, New Mexico. She job-shadowed in San Juan Regional Medical Center’s emergency department and served as a teen auxiliary volunteer, where she pushed patients in wheelchairs, directed patients and guests to rooms, and assisted with patient discharges. She also offered her time and talents to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and UMattr, which educates elementary students about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
Now Turner continues her commitment to community service in Las Cruces, despite college’s academic demands and her parents’ health issues. She’s involved in multiple Gamma Beta Phi service projects, including NMSU’s Keep State Great, the Big Event, Aggie Cupboard food pantry and Las Cruces Soup Kitchen, and spends time with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
Turner also regularly encourages her fellow Aggies to engage in some form of service. “When you look around, the economy isn’t exactly great. Many people have been put out of jobs and their homes because of the pandemic,” she said. “Their entire lives have been flipped upside down. If you have the means and the ability, I see absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t go out and help everyone.”
Volunteering in healthcare settings and children’s organizations also set the foundation for Turner’s career choices. “Those experiences pushed me toward working with pediatrics,” she said. “In the emergency room and in the hospital, I realized that while I like working with adults, I like the kids the best.”
Turner initially enrolled in NMSU’s Osteopathic Medical Pathways Program, which would have guaranteed her an automatic slot into The Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine at NMSU. “But then my mom got sick in 2018 so I had to change paths so that I wouldn’t be in school for 12-14 years,” she said. “I could get out of school and go home to help a little bit quicker by changing majors.”
Now the nursing student is on track to graduate in 2023. After college, Turner wants to work at a hospital before enrolling in NMSU’s Nurse Practitioner Program. “I want to get a bit of work experience before jumping right in,” she said. “How do you know how to be a provider if you don’t know how to be a nurse?”
Unsurprisingly, her long-term career plans involve working as a pediatric nurse practitioner and include a strong service component. “Farmington is considered a border community to the Navajo Reservation,” said Turner. “They often don’t get the best healthcare on the reservation so they would have to drive hours and hours to get medical help. I want to go to work for Indian Health Services to provide a high level of care.”
NMSU’s faculty have taken note of Turner’s commitment to her education and her compassionate nature. “In clinical at Memorial Medical Center, Trennery received high scores for her empathy communicating with patients, whether they were retired healthcare workers or part of the Las Cruces homeless community,” the NMSU Assistant Professor Beth Hendricks. “I think that empathy without exception is sometimes a learned behavior, but Trennery has this gift effortlessly. She continued to shine in clinical, whether she was catching a patient's food allergy or connecting with a social worker when concerned about patient discharge questions.”
Now thanks to the Heroes of Compassion Annual Fund for Excellence, Turner has a deeper appreciation of what it’s like to be on the receiving end of compassion. “This scholarship has done a lot for my family,” she said. “It’s just been very stressful—all the medical bills, and my mom has to travel three hours to see her doctors. You can imagine how expensive this can be, especially with me being in school. This scholarship has greatly impacted my family. People often think ‘Oh, $400, $800, $1,000—how much difference can you make?’ You don’t realize how much of a difference a scholarship of any amount makes until you get it.”
Donations to the Heroes of Compassion Scholarship Annual Fund for Excellence can be made by CLICKING HERE.