CLEVELAND — Tanya Medrano’s life has come full circle. The now 21-year-old was born at Cleveland Clinic Fairview Hospital and now she’s a registered nurse in that same hospital.

What You Need To Know

  • As the nursing shortage continues nationwide, the Cleveland Clinic said there’s another issue in the profession: a lack of diversity

  • To address that concern, the health care system is teaming up with local high schools to create a pipeline of talent through the ASPIRE Nurse Scholars Program

  • Students from any Cleveland-area high school can apply

Medrano said she always knew she wanted to work in health care. 

“I always wanted a stable job and to help people was my calling," she said.

Nursing became a reality for her after learning about the ASPIRE Nurse Scholars Program as a junior at Saint Martin de Porres High School in Cleveland.

The Cleveland Clinic started the program in 2017. Medrano is one of the first five students to graduate and now work as an RN full-time. The program is funded by a $10 million gift from The Howley Foundation. The goal is to create opportunities for underrepresented students with financial need in order to increase diversity in the profession.

“Definitely helped us graduate with our nursing degrees debt-free," said Medrano. “A lot of us came from a background where we didn’t have that much. Even thinking about college was scary. But the fact that I found the ASPIRE program helped me secure my dreams, and it helped me get to where I am today.”

Medrano is a first generation college graduate. She said the ASPIRE Nurse Scholars Program was there for her every step of the way during nursing school at Tri-C.

“The ASPIRE program has been there to support me, you know, when I felt like I had nobody or when I felt that the program, I couldn’t complete it," she said. "So, I think the ASPIRE program not only helped me financially, but mentally.”

In 2019, she started working at Fairview as a Patient Care Nursing Assistant (PCNA) in the Postpartum Unit and now, she’s learning the ropes in the Cardiac Med/Surgical Unit.

“I like the fact that I can be the patient’s advocate," said Medrano. “I never thought that this day would come. I’m very happy and I’m very proud of what this program has done for me and my other fellow colleagues that graduated.”

Medrano said she is grateful to be at the start of a career she loves and hopes to inspire others to not give up on their dreams.

“I feel very lucky that I already have my career at a young age," she said.

Daria Sheafe is the ASPIRE Nurse Scholars Program RN Program Coordinator. She said this is all about diversifying the nursing workforce by removing barriers. Students from any Cleveland-area high school can apply.

The 12-week enrichment program starts junior year of high school for about 25 students and for those that choose to continue beyond that, students work as a Cleveland Clinic PCNA right after high school graduation.

The support continues throughout nursing school with the program’s academic partner, Ursuline College.

“We are looking for students who are interested in a career in nursing and underrepresented in the field of nursing. So that would be students who are minorities or students who are male or students who are financially disadvantaged that may not have the opportunity to afford going to college for nursing," said Sheafe. "We want them to apply to our program because that’s our pipeline.”

The deadline to apply to the ASPIRE Nurse Scholars Program is Oct. 28. Sheafe said the nursing program has been such a success that ASPIRE is now expanding into other career pathways, including respiratory therapy, surgical technology and sterile processing. Recruitment efforts for those programs are underway now.