Nursing at Seattle Children’s

Elizabeth Thomas Legacy Nursing Scholarship

The goal of the Elizabeth Thomas Legacy Scholarship is to increase the diversity of registered nurses in the Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho (WAMI) region. The scholarship will recognize those who demonstrate excellence and commitment to improving the care and well-being of children and their families here at Seattle Children’s and in the WAMI region.

This scholarship is for students from historically underrepresented backgrounds in the biomedical and health sciences. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the following racial and ethnic groups have been shown to be underrepresented in biomedical research and health sciences: Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders. Individuals with disabilities and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds may also meet the NIH definition of underrepresented populations. Please review this website for a full list of underrepresented groups.

The award may be used to help with tuition and fees for people preparing to become nurses and/or advancing their nursing skills through graduate-level education.

These scholarships reflect Seattle Children’s commitment to assist with the economic barriers that prevent some students from pursuing nursing careers.

Annual Awards

Scholarships will be awarded in the amount of $5,000. Scholarship funds are sent directly to recipients’ schools to be applied to tuition and fees. These funds are not eligible for living expenses.

Eligible Degrees

  • Associate's
  • Bachelor's
  • Master's
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science (PhD)

Eligibility Criteria

  1. Applicants must be a permanent resident of Washington, Alaska, Montana or Idaho (WAMI).
  2. Applicants must be accepted or enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate-level nursing program at an accredited college or university by September 1, 2024.
  3. Applicants must have a nursing school graduation date after June 30, 2024.

Selection Process

The Elizabeth Thomas Legacy Scholarship Committee will review scholarship applications and select recipients. Responses to the two required essay questions are the most heavily weighted portion of the application.

Timeline for 2024 Scholarship Submission

About Elizabeth “Liz” Thomas

(April 15, 1934 – Feb. 9, 2011)

Elizabeth Thomas, BSN, MN, ARNP, an African American nurse, was inspired to become a nurse as a young child, when she was not allowed to visit her dying mother. Her witness of the inequities in care between African American and white communities drove her to improve medical care received by the Black community and other disadvantaged groups. Unfortunately, due to racism, she was not allowed to attend a hospital-based nursing school in Mobile, Alabama. Instead, she entered a licensed practical nurse (LPN) program at a Catholic-run nursing school in Selma, Alabama.

She started working as a LPN and moved with her husband and their two children to Seattle in 1961. She accepted a job at Harborview Medical Center and later entered the RN training program at Shoreline Community College in 1972 as one of three Black students. She later completed her bachelor's degree at Seattle University, and served as Head Start nurse in Seattle’s Central Area Motivation Program. She was accepted as the first Black student in the University of Washington Pediatric Nurse Practitioner program and, after completing an internship at Seattle Children's Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic (OBCC), was certified as an ARNP. She joined the clinic’s staff to begin a 23-year career at the clinic, from which she retired in 1996.

Thomas invested her formidable energies to care for, educate and empower her individual patients and their families. Her commitment to the health and well-being of her patients and her community was widely recognized by colleagues: "She was a vital force and beyond that a great friend and coworker as well as the glue that held things together… an individual with the capacity to intervene and to stop things from falling apart."

Her passion for social justice inspired others to act and persevere. She said: "Never give up the struggle, even when the going gets tough."

Thomas brought a strong personality and moral sense to her work with children and their families. She was able to be caring while instilling a personal sense of responsibility in those children and families.

Her accomplishments included:

  • Working to remove barriers to prenatal care, co-chairing the Seattle-King County Infant Mortality Committee for many years
  • Championing the Baby Buckle Seat Program
  • Facilitating the timely immunization of preschoolers and adolescents
  • Starting a community parenting program for parents involved in the court system and continuing to teach parenting classes during her retirement

Her reach went far beyond OBCC and extended across the nation. She was actively involved in several professional nursing associations, including the American, Washington State and King County Nurses Associations, Mary Mahoney Professional Nurses Organization and many others. She was inducted in the Washington State Nurses Association Hall of Fame in 2000 and received many other awards and recognitions throughout her career.

In 2014, Seattle Children’s created the annual Liz Thomas Award to recognize outstanding performance and professionalism by a nurse practitioner or Physician’s Assistant. In 2017, the Elizabeth Thomas Legacy Scholarship was created to help underrepresented groups access nursing education.

For questions and concerns, please email