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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Three College Students Receive Culpepper Cardiac Foundation’s First Responders Scholarships 

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Three College Students Receive Culpepper Cardiac Foundation’s First Responders Scholarships

by James Coulter

For as long as she can remember, Nitya Thakkar has wanted to work in the medical field. The past two years of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic especially inspired her to step up to the plate and join the game to help people during these uncertain times.

“I saw how understaffed our medical services are and decided that I wanted to help minimize this gap,” Thakkar said. “My passion for going into the medical field also grew during high school as I performed 1000 hours of community service and discovered my passion for helping others and bringing a smile to their face.”

Currently, Thakkar is attending the University of South Florida in Tampa. She is studying for her bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences with a minor in psychology. This semester, she is taking classes in chemistry, physics, and biology.

“My expectations for the upcoming school year is that I want to learn how to handle all the other responsibilities in life outside of just studying which I will achieve by becoming independent in college,” she said. “I also want to grow personally and make more connections with like-minded peers.”

Thakkar can pursue her studies with funding she received through a scholarship from the Culpepper Cardiac Foundation, a local non-profit organization dedicated to assisting local firefighters and EMTs and promoting cardiovascular health.

“It feels absolutely amazing to have the opportunity to receive this scholarship,” she said. “I am very happy that the scholarship committee was impressed with my application as I had truly put in a lot of work and effort for it.”

Thakkar was one of three recipients of the Culpepper Cardiac Foundation’s First Responders Scholarship. The other two individuals include Richie Bingham and Avery Welch.

Richie Bingham is currently attending the Firefighter Academy at Ridge Technical College. She is working to complete the academy to become a certified firefighter, and she hopes to do so by passing the academy as well as the state test. She also plans to later attend the EMT Program at Polk State.

“I feel honored to have received this scholarship,” she said. “I love helping people and I’m passionate about what I do.  I enjoy helping and serving my community. What better way to do that then to become a first responder.”

The Culpepper Cardiac Foundation (CCF) First Responders Scholarship is funded through donations and proceeds raised by the organization’s many fundraisers, including Walking 4 A Heart, Fishing 4 A Heart, Saving Lives Matter, and Racks 4 A Heart pool tournament.

Melanie Brown Culpepper, CCF Founder, was able to finance three scholarships and five AEDs through charitable donations to her organization. She started her organization in memory of her late fiancée, Michael Culpepper, who passed away from cardiac arrest. She has since dedicated her life to supporting local first responders and EMTs by raising funds toward AEDs and scholarships.

She was unable to host any events this year due to a recent injury, yet she plans on hosting several soon now that she has fully recovered. Her next big event will be Saving Lives Matter at Tanners Lakeside on Nov. 12.

“Giving these scholarships out was the most rewarding feeling I felt,” she said. “I know I’m so proud of each of these students and I’m touched to know that we all helped them towards their future. I hope that each one of them finish their education and fulfill their dreams. It is a privilege to be a part of helping them & I was honored.”

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