EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Thursday evening, seventy students marked the beginning of their education at the Hunt School of Nursing with a white coat ceremony.

The event included the announcement of a special gift to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso for nursing scholarships.

The ceremony included the reciting of the student oath, the presentation of white coats to the nursing students and a keynote address. The ceremony is meant to highlight the students’ commitment to compassionate care and scientific excellence.

At the event, community leaders Alan and Patty Russell, longtime supporters of TTUHSC El Paso, announced a $100,000 gift to the university for current use nursing scholarships. The gift will be matched by WestStar’s matching scholarship fund, bringing the total to $200,000 in support of Hunt School of Nursing students.

Photo courtesy TTUHSC El Paso

Alan co-founded the Tecma Group of Companies in 1986 and serves as chairman and CEO. Tecma has 85 facilities employing 15,000 people, reaching across both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Patty enjoyed a long career as a realtor with Sandy Messer & Associates, specializing in residential real estate on El Paso’s West Side and Upper Valley. She then moved on to develop the Outlaw subdivision in Alto, New Mexico. Patty currently serves as Tecma’s in-house real estate consultant.

Education has always been important to both Alan and Patty, from their helping nieces and nephews achieve academic goals to offering scholarships to underprivileged high school graduates from Alan’s small hometown community in Oklahoma. Tecma encourages and financially supports its employees who want to continue their educational dreams.

Today, the Russells are honored to be able to offer support to our community’s future front-line heroes by helping with nursing scholarships that pave the way for local students to achieve their dreams.

The Hunt School of Nursing’s goal has been to ease a critical shortage of nurses in the Borderplex. The shortage has increased due to some nurses leaving the profession during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Hunt School of Nursing is ensuring a better future for El Pasoans by educating health care leaders who will help our community through these challenging times,” Alan said. “Students have made a decision to serve as future nurses knowing the challenges that lay ahead and the sacrifices they have to make. This is our way of showing our appreciation and removing one less barrier for them to worry about while on the front lines. We are proud to support the school and its efforts to train the future nurses of the Borderplex while also changing the lives of their families.”

During the ceremony, the Russells received a special gift of their own – close family members who surprised them and joined the event as they announced the scholarship fund to the class of 2023.

The Russells have always stepped up for our community in times of need, including during the COVID-19 pandemic. After they contracted the virus in 2020, before vaccines were available, they donated convalescent plasma, an antibody-rich blood product that can help other patients fight the virus. Together with TTUHSC El Paso, they shared their experience, encouraging members of the community to do the same to help reduce the risk of severe illness.

Since opening in 2011, more than 1,140 nurses have graduated from the Hunt School of Nursing, with 90% staying in the region. As a result, the number of registered nurses in the county has increased by 45%.

The white coat ceremony is a traditional rite of passage welcoming students to the health care practice. TTUHSC El Paso is the only university in the city that holds a white coat ceremony for new nursing students. The coats and stethoscopes students receive are provided thanks to TTUHSC El Paso’s generous donors and alumni.

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