The foundation has placed $50,000 into the Philip R. Ricker Scholarship Trust. It is designated to generate interest that will be used for a minimum of three nursing scholarships each academic year. The principal will not be used, allowing for perpetual scholarships that could amount to $2,500 annually, assuming the trust earns 5 percent interest.
To launch the scholarships immediately, Ricker contributed an additional $2,500 for scholarships of about $800 each that can be awarded this academic year.
Ricker noted that large contributions for scholarships are usually made after someone dies.
"I thought, ‘Why not do something while I'm still alive?' Perhaps I may be helped in the future by a nurse who received one," he said.
In helping just one person become a nurse, "look at the thousands of people throughout that nurse's working career who will also be helped."
He added he hopes to be able to add to the fund in the future.
Ricker is a Holtville native who retired in 1993 after 31 years with Pacific Bell.
He got the idea for the scholarship from a friend who received her vocational nursing certificate.
"She is always telling me how hard it is and that a lot of people don't have the money to complete the program," Ricker said.
He contacted IVC after reading about a $178,000 grant the nursing program received in August to develop local specialty training for nurses at El Centro Regional Medical Center and Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District in Brawley.
The grant will fund targeted training and retraining to 40 registered nurses in multiple specialty units, including critical care, emergency services and labor and delivery.
The Philip R. Ricker scholarships will be awarded to students in three categories: registered nursing, vocational nursing and "re-entry" students who have a vocational nursing certificate and wish to return to IVC to qualify for an RN certificate.
"Mr. Ricker is a wonderful person and is very perceptive regarding the needs of our students," said IVC President Gilbert Dominguez. "His contribution will assist many people to fulfill their ambition of becoming a nurse."
Tom Remington, executive director of the IVC Foundation, said Ricker's contribution is one of the largest in recent years.
"We really appreciate Mr. Ricker's gift. It is typical of a generosity that is endemic to Imperial Valley. Our whole community will benefit as Imperial Valley College and its nursing students share the fruits of these gifts," Remington said.
Kathy Berry, IVC director of nursing education and health technologies, said she hopes Ricker's gift will encourage students to enroll in the nursing program.
"Our program is expensive. Nursing students typically pay $300 to $600 per semester for books and supplies only. That does not include tuition," Berry said. "Mr. Ricker's scholarships could make the difference between someone not entering our program and someone becoming a nurse."