The Alfred State College Nursing Department continued its “Pay It Forward” philosophy through the awarding of its fifth annual round of “Pay It Forward” scholarships, established during the fall 2006 semester and presented to this year’s recipient, senior nursing student Laura Babcock, Wellsville.
The premise of “paying it forward” comes from a movie by the same name where a school child, as the result of a homework assignment to change the world, begins the practice of helping others, expecting not pay back, but that each of those beneficiaries will go on to help three more people. The caring aspect of that concept prompted Linda Panter, ASC professor in the nursing program, to incorporate it into the program, where it has grown, and culminated, thus far, into the scholarship. Each eligible nursing student submits proposals detailing the activities they could conduct to demonstrate the caring nature of the profession. The proposals need to demonstrate an understanding of caring as identified in the nursing caring project and evidenced by implementing a unique caring project and revealing insight and sensitivity in the written assignment.
The Pay It Forward concept developed into a Pay It Forward Scholarship, initiated by the nursing graduating Class of 2005. The scholarships are awarded to senior nursing students at the beginning of their last semester. Funding is provided by private donors as well as through fundraisers conducted by the nursing students themselves.
“’Pay It Forward’ is a concept relating to social change beginning with the individual. Application of the process results in exponential development of moral health and caring, as well as transformation of the individual into a contributing member of the global society,” says Panter of the project. She adds, “The selection of the recipient is based on whether the project demonstrates an understanding of caring as evidenced by implementing a unique caring project and revealing insight and sensitivity in the written assignment.”
Babcock’s project, in part, read:
“To me, caring is an act of kindness done for another person. Whether it is showing concern, doing a good deed, or being sensitive and empathetic toward another’s feelings, both the person giving and receiving care should experience [a] loving feeling. Without a doubt, caring is putting someone else’s needs first; it’s helping someone out even when there may be a million other projects to be done.
“[During] my senior year in high school, I shoveled a walk-way for an older couple, Mr. and Mrs. L, who live nearby, during the winter so the wife could maneuver her walker without interference. So I called them up, explained my intentions, and Mr. L told me to come over.
“When I drove over to their house, Mr. L looked beat. He told me that his wife was having some difficulty and I immediately felt concerned. I asked if there was anything I could do to help. He went back inside and handed me a grocery list and money, and I went shopping.
“When I returned, his son answered the door; he was visiting from Georgia for Thanksgiving. He led me inside where Mr. L proceeded to sit down at the kitchen table and talk to me. From my phone conversation with him earlier he knew that I was a nursing student and that was enough for him to open up to me about his wife. She had diabetes and a lot of edema in her lower extremities. She was also having kidney failure. When I heard her talk, she sounded very gravelly. He talked at length about her condition and how worried he was, because he’s 93 and couldn’t really take care of her anymore the way he wants to, and I sat there and listened.
“After our conversation, I asked Mr. L if there was anything else I could help them with; he said that I could take the dead leaves off of the bush in front of the picture window and dump them in the backyard. After I unloaded them, I turned around only to be startled by his son. He told me that he was so thankful for what I had done, and even though I don’t necessarily think what I did was that significant, I know that it’s the little things in life that count. I told him about the Pay It Forward project and that I didn’t expect his parents to be able to “pay it forward” to someone else, but I just wanted to do a good deed for them. He choked up when he answered, ‘Yes, but I will.’ I knew right then that what I had done had made a difference. And I felt pleased that he would carry on an act of kindness to someone else.”