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When she started at Newton Presbyterian Manor eight years ago, Dannica Avendano (right) was a CNA just out of school. Since then, she’s received at least two scholarships from Presbyterian Manor for continuing her education and accolades for her work at the community.

“I received a scholarship when I went back to school for my LPN and then again when I went through school to complete the prerequisites for the RN program,” Dannica said.

Not satisfied, Dannica has applied for the RN program at Hutchinson Community College and another scholarship from Presbyterian Manor.

“I don’t want to say I’m stuck, but I feel as if it’s time for me to take the next step in my career and advance myself. I know what I’m capable of, and I feel like I’m capable of more,” said Dannica.

Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America provides scholarships each year to staff in the healthcare field as a way to continue their education.

“I have so many student loans from before getting this scholarship that I would not have gone back to school if I had not had access to this. Getting another scholarship would mean continuing my career and advancing my opportunity as a nurse. I really want to be successful in my career, and I really feel very passionate about what I do. I’m hard working and dedicated.”

Dannica’s hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. In May, she was voted “Nurse of the Year” by the Newton Presbyterian Manor staff.

“I thought it was so bizarre that I got that award because when I saw they were voting on this, I decided not to vote because everyone here is really hard workers and everyone deserves it. We’re all super stars! When I got it, I was very shocked.”

The award just fueled her desire to keep striving for the next thing.

“As a nurse, you always wonder if you’re doing the right thing and making the right choices. To get that award, it was validation that I am doing something right. It’s been such a great experience working here the past eight years and I can’t imagine going anywhere else and having that home away from home type of family here."

Cheering her on from the sidelines is a supportive family. Dannica’s husband, Alex, her three step-children, and her grandmother and mother are her biggest fans.

“My grandmother got her high school diploma when she was 55. I have a really good support team.”

Photo: Congratulations to Dannica Avendano (right), "Nurse of the Year," and Jodi Huntley (left), "Miss Personality," who received these awards from their peers during Nurses Week in June.

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