Investing in the future: Patricia Frist Memorial Scholarship recipients share their journeys

Pictures of students in college graduation gowns

At HCA Healthcare, we take pride in supporting the educational goals of our colleagues and their family members. In order to help dependents of HCA Healthcare colleagues pursue two or four-year post-secondary undergraduate degrees, the HCA Healthcare Foundation established a merit-based scholarship program in 2019.

The scholarship program was renamed the Patricia Frist Memorial Scholarship in 2021 to honor the late Patricia Frist, a longtime philanthropist in Nashville, Tennessee, and wife of HCA Healthcare co-founder Dr. Thomas Frist Jr. Through this program, eligible dependents of HCA Healthcare colleagues can receive merit-based higher education scholarships of up to $5,000 a year.

Since the scholarship program’s inception, 3,367 one-year scholarships totaling more than $11 million have been awarded to eligible dependents of full- and part-time HCA Healthcare colleagues pursuing post-secondary undergraduate education.

This spring marked graduation season for the inaugural group of Patricia Frist Memorial Scholarship recipients. In total, there were 44 graduates in 2023 who earned a scholarship four years in a row.

Below, learn about the recipients of the scholarship that allows Patricia Frist’s legacy to live on.

Meet the first four-year recipients of the Patricia Frist Memorial Scholarship

Chris George, The University of Florida (Gainesville, Florida)

Scholarship recipient in a graduation gown hugging his mother
Patricia Frist Memorial Scholarship recipient Chris George and his mother Mini Peter, a nurse at HCA Florida Brandon Hospital

Chris George is a proud graduate of the University of Florida who was able to obtain his Bachelor of Arts in Biology degree with the financial assistance of the Patricia Frist Memorial Scholarship. Today, Chris has his sights set on the next chapter of his academic journey and is pursuing a master’s degree in information systems and operations management, driven by his recognition of technology’s profound influence in the healthcare industry.

“I am honored to have received the scholarship because it is very prestigious and given to those who are willing to give back to the community,” said Chris.

As he takes this next step, he carries with him the support and encouragement of his family. Chris learned of the scholarship opportunity that assisted him through his undergraduate education from his mother, Mini Peter, a nurse at HCA Florida Brandon Hospital in Brandon, Florida. Mini says she’s grateful for the opportunities available to HCA Healthcare colleagues to provide a firm foundation for educational development and financial stability.

“I am proud to be an HCA Healthcare colleague because I am not simply considered a part of the HCA Healthcare workforce, but instead a part of the vast HCA Healthcare family.”

Mini Peter, nurse, HCA Florida Brandon Hospital

Shelby Helton, The University of Tennessee (Knoxville, Tennessee)

Scholarship recipient in a graduation gown
Patricia Frist Memorial Scholarship Recipient, Shelby Helton

Shelby Helton’s passion for the nursing field grew from the care and support she received and witnessed from nurses during personal hospital experiences.

Shelby first learned about this scholarship through her father, Charles Stevens, a director of appointment services with HCA Healthcare’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) team. With financial assistance from the Patricia Frist Memorial Scholarship, Shelby was able to pursue her nursing dreams and graduate with a Bachelor of Nursing from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee.

“I am proud to have received this scholarship because I think it showed how hard I worked to receive something like this,” Shelby said. “This scholarship allowed me to attend a bigger school with a stellar nursing school.”

With a nursing degree in hand, Shelby followed in her father’s footsteps and joined the HCA Healthcare family. She currently serves as a nurse in the emergency department at HCA Florida Northside Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. “I am most looking forward to starting my career and being able to work in my dream specialty,” she explained.

As the father of a scholarship recipient, Charles credits the HCA Healthcare Foundation for helping to open doors for colleagues’ children’s education. “I am extremely proud to be part of an organization that treats me like family, but also extends opportunities that can also benefit my children’s future,” Charles said.

Samia Khan, Emory University (Atlanta, Georgia)

Scholarship recipient
Patricia Frist Memorial Scholarship recipient Samia Khan and her mother Shahida Akther, a sonographer with HCA Healthcare affiliate St. David’s HealthCare

Samia Khan’s current journey to a career in medicine began with assistance from the Patricia Frist Memorial Scholarship to help her obtain a degree from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. As a scholarship recipient every year throughout her undergraduate studies, Samia is grateful for the opportunity available to the dependents of HCA Healthcare colleagues like her mother, Shahida Akhter.

“This scholarship represents me and my mother’s hard work and the network of support I had behind me while pursuing my degree. The support of this scholarship allowed me to work in a research lab and as a teaching assistant and resident advisor without some of the underlying stress of my financial situation. I am proud of myself and my growth over the last four years, which truly could not have been accomplished without this scholarship.”

Samia Khan, Patricia Frist Memorial Scholarship recipient

Now that Samia has received her undergraduate diploma, she is excited to be attending Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas this fall to study pediatric neurology. “I was inspired to choose a career in medicine after my initial interest in neuroscience gave way to learning more about the brain, behavior and neuroethics,” Samia explained. “I am excited to learn from professors, mentors and physicians in the coming years and see how I can best provide patient care and positively impact my community.”

Shahida, a sonographer with HCA Healthcare affiliate St. David’s HealthCare in Texas, is proud of the work her daughter has put in to achieve her goals and is grateful to the HCA Healthcare Foundation for helping her along the way. “I am very thankful that [the HCA Healthcare Foundation] awarded my daughter the Patricia Frist Memorial Scholarship, which helped her achieve academic excellence,” Shahida said.

Marina Francis, University of South Florida (Tampa, Florida)

Scholarship recipient a green cap and white graduation gown smiling for a picture with her mother
Patricia Frist Memorial Scholarship Recipient Marina Francis and her mother Maria Francis, a nurse at HCA Florida Brandon Hospital

Marina Francis was inspired to go to nursing school after watching her mother care for HCA Healthcare patients throughout the years. “My biggest inspiration is my mom, Maria Francis,” Marina shared. “She is my biggest cheerleader!”

When looking at scholarships to assist with tuition for her studies at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida, Maria suggested her daughter apply for the Patricia Frist Memorial Scholarship. Having received the scholarship for all four years of her undergraduate studies, Marina was able to focus on her studies and ultimately graduate Magna Cum Laude in May 2023.

“I am so proud and grateful to receive the scholarship because it has helped me complete college and has supported my dream of working as a nurse. From volunteering in high school at an HCA Healthcare hospital to now walking the halls of a hospital as a nurse, it is incredible. This scholarship helped me take my first steps into my career!”

Marina Francis, Patricia Frist Memorial Scholarship recipient

Today, Marina is working as a Mother Baby nurse while continuing her education as a clinical nurse resident to learn how to practice at the top of her license and to make her patients feel safe and cared for.

Maria takes immense pride in seeing Marina live out her dream of being a nurse, especially given the financial support they received from the scholarship available to dependents of HCA Healthcare colleagues. “[The scholarship] provided amazing opportunities for my daughter to learn and grow, and to feel supported to pursue her dreams, which also happened to be in healthcare,” Maria said.

The application period for the Patricia Frist Memorial Scholarship program is currently closed and will re-open in January 2024. For more details and eligibility, please visit:

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 182 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

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