Retired nurse commits $3.4 million for medical career scholarships

Helen Clement, 92, worked as a registered nurse in all kinds of settings: operating rooms, nursing homes, college campuses, even a high-security federal facility.

Thanks to a recent bequest commitment—expected to total approximately $3.4 million—she is continuing her role as an advocate of medical education through the creation of an undergraduate scholarship program at UCCS.

An initial $60,000 gift from the Clement Family Foundation has established the Clement Family Endowed Scholarship Program, which will provide full-ride annual scholarships to two qualifying undergraduate students at the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences at UCCS. Part of the initial gift will start the endowment, with the remainder used to support an existing Clement Family Foundation scholar at UCCS. Another scholarship recipient will be named this fall. The Clement estate’s eventual liquidation, upon Clement’s death, will create several more scholarships in perpetuity for UCCS students interested in medically related careers such as nursing, nutrition, health promotion, health science, sports medicine and exercise science.

With highly regarded programs in geropsychology and sports medicine, UCCS is becoming recognized as an emerging academic institution for aspiring health care professionals. In recent years, UCCS has gained momentum with the opening of the Lane Center for Academic Health Sciences on the UCCS campus and the renaming of its nursing college in recognition of an $8 million grant by the Denver-based Helen K. and Arthur E. Johnson Foundation. The Lane Center is also home to the recently opened Colorado Springs Branch of the University of Colorado School of Medicine. UCCS’ expanding reputation in health care has increasingly been recognized by donors, enabling the campus to see record philanthropy supporting health care programming.

Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak said Clement’s bequest will help address a need for more scholarship support. Last year UCCS faced $7 million dollars in unmet scholarship need for more than 5,000 students. Preference in selecting the Clement scholarship recipients will be given to students who are from the eastern plains of Colorado, especially those from Limon High School.

“I am grateful for Helen Clement’s generosity, which will make a college education possible for many deserving students,” Shockley-Zalabak said.

Clement grew up in Depression-era Texas as the youngest of six children raised by a single mother. The family lived across the street from the town hospital, and the nurses in their stiff white uniforms, hats and capes enchanted the young girl. When she was old enough, Clement enrolled in a three-year federal training program for nurses, a move she called “one of the best decisions I ever made.” She graduated in 1948.

Clement worked as a nurse while her late husband, James, operated general stores in Texas, New Mexico and Nebraska. The couple eventually settled in Limon where they were longtime residents. The couple created the Clement Family Foundation in 2010, awarding scholarships to Limon High School seniors interested in medical degrees. Now a resident of Colorado Springs, Clement said she was excited that this philanthropic partnership with UCCS will help more college students interested in entering the health care field she so loves.

“Even now, the opportunities are so much greater than when I graduated because there are so many new fields in medicine,” Clement said. “I hope this scholarship program helps as many students in whatever field of medicine they choose, so they can fulfill their dreams … and those dreams are built on the foundation of an education.”

— Melanie M. Sidwell, CU Office of Advancement

— Video by UCCS Media Services


4 Comments on Retired nurse commits $3.4 million for medical career scholarships

  1. God Bless you Helen, I have a Granddaughter that is a RN in the Neo-nato unit at Presbyterian – St Luke’s in Denver.. I am so Proud of her..She now has a little boy 3 and a little girl she is a busy girl..I miss seeing you in were Special to everyone here..

  2. Helen was an truly an inspiration to me as I completed my initial training as a nurse while I was living in Limon. She instilled in me the importance of honoring the art of nursing as technology advances. She was also my cheerleader as I plugged away at a BSN working nights in a rural Eastern Colorado hospital. Now, I am an Adult and Gerontological Nurse Practitioner as a result of the many discussions Helen and I had during. It is no surprise to me to hear of her and Jim’s generosity. The recipients of these monies will be very fortunate, indeed.

  3. I had the privilege of starting my medical career as a young newly minted rural physician at Lincoln Community Hospital, where Helen was the DON and in charge of surgical services. She helped me scrub and assisted me through my 1st surgery, a C-Section. I have known her for the last 32 yrs. She has been a friend, patient and colleague. She retired several times over the years but always came back because of her strong commitment to her profession and to her community. It doesn’t surprise me that she is still finding ways to contribute. She is truly the epitome of what it is to be a nurse and a person of character. We love you Helen and miss you in our community.

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