Aurora Loss with scholarship winner Vanessa Apodaca.
Ventura College Foundation, which provides financial support to students and programs of Ventura College, received $184,105 from the estate of long-time Ventura College supporter Aurora Loss who passed away in April 2020 at age 102. Loss has a 20-year history of giving to Ventura College Foundation to fund scholarships for Ventura College nursing students.
Loss’ donation is divided equally with $92,052 designated for the establishment of the Aurora Loss Scholarship Fund endowment and $92,052 to the college’s nursing department for the purchase of medical training equipment. The scholarships will be managed and awarded through the Ventura College Foundation.
Loss grew up on a farm in a mining town in Montana. An independent and career-driven woman, she attended Billings Business College and soon was employed in the engineering industry and as a government administrator during WWII.
Her career included working at the Pentagon. While in Washington D.C., she became ill and was hospitalized. Doctors minimalized her symptoms but she received the support of a nurse who advocated for her. Loss believed the nurse helped save her life. She never forgot the nurse’s kindness. When Loss eventually relocated to California, she found an opportunity to reciprocate by supporting Ventura College’s nursing students with scholarships and program support.
Dr. Sandra Melton, director of the college’s School of Nursing & Allied Health, had the opportunity to have lunch with Loss on several occasions and to take her on a tour of the nursing school.
Currently, 151 students are enrolled in the Ventura College two-year nursing program. The program normally enrolls up to 200 students, but the pandemic temporarily limited the number of enrollments. The students use life-like manikins (also known as patient simulators) in the learning process. These manikins are computer controlled and simulate breathing, life-like sounds, heartbeats, pulse and other bodily functions. As a tribute to Loss’ generosity, one of the manikins is being named, “Auntie LaLa” in her memory.
“The manikins allow students to use their critical thinking skills to perform patient assessments and administer patient interventions in a safe environment,” says Melton.
Melton says her department currently uses three high fidelity adult, pediatric and birthing simulators and is considering adding a more advanced wireless child simulator with Loss’ donation. The department will also purchase additional medical equipment with the funds. “It’s important that students have access to practice with the same equipment that they will use in local hospitals,” she says. “We’re always updating our program with the latest technology.”
The nursing program is one of the most expensive on campus. Students must purchase textbooks, uniforms and medical supplies such as stethoscopes, and pay for drug testing, CPR certification and licensing exams. “Scholarships help offset some of these costs,” says Anne Paul King, Ventura College Foundation executive director.
The Ventura College nursing program enjoys a 100% hiring rate for those graduates seeking employment with the majority of graduating students accepting positions locally. “The generous donations from Aurora Loss will support the degree completion of our nursing students,” says Ventura College President Kim Hoffmans who is also a registered nurse.
For more information about scholarships and other support services provided by the Ventura College Foundation, go to www.VenturaCollegeFoundation.org.