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Local man donates $52,000 to start EMT program

November 20, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

Just by looking at him, Phillip Ricker seems every inch an ordinary man.

However, with his latest gift of $52,000 to establish emergency medical technician and paramedic scholarships at Imperial Valley College, Ricker will make an extraordinary difference in the lives of some IVC students.

Ricker already donated $52,500 in September to establish a perpetual scholarship fund for IVC's nursing program. As he was looking to donate more money to the college, Ricker said he learned about the school's EMT and paramedic program. Ricker said Kathy Berry, IVC director of nursing education and health technology, explained that because of the program's expenses, some students have to drop out.

Ricker presented his latest donation to the Imperial College Foundation on Monday in front of El Centro Regional Medical Center. Among the guests on hand were the first three recipients of the nursing scholarships Ricker established in September.


Lucia Castaneda, 28, of Imperial is in her first semester of IVC's nursing program. Castaneda said the scholarship money has helped fund the purchase of a computer on which she does classwork.

When asked about meeting Ricker on Monday, Castaneda smiled.

"It's amazing how someone can be so generous helping someone he doesn't even know," Castaneda said.

In Ricker's mind, he's only returning the favor.

Ricker, a Holtville resident, said his own experiences with severe medical problems and subsequent treatment by doctors, nurses, EMTs and paramedics have given him an appreciation for the work they do.

"They've got your life in their hands," Ricker said.

The other nursing scholarship recipients, Irene Flores, 27, of Holtville, and James Berg, 39, of Ocotillo Wells, said the scholarship money has eased the financial burden of attending IVC's nursing program.

Flores, in her fourth and final semester must do part of her training in San Diego, said the extra money helps defray the cost of travel. Berg said the money is paying for a new transmission in his car, which he relies upon for the long drive between Ocotillo Wells and IVC's campus.

Ron Schoors, executive director of the Imperial Valley College Foundation, which administers the scholarships, said a minimum of two paramedic scholarships, possibly four, will be awarded next semester.

Like the nursing scholarships, the EMT and paramedic scholarships will be competitive, Berry said.

"It (the scholarship money) is greatly needed and welcomed," Berry said.

"It's wonderful that a community member would do this," she added.

>> Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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