Elizabeth Thomas Legacy Nursing Scholarship
The goal of the Elizabeth Thomas Legacy Scholarship is to increase the diversity of registered nurses in our community. 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 our community.
This scholarship is intended for students from backgrounds that are historically underrepresented in the biomedical and health sciences. According to 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. Individual 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 assist with tuition and fees for persons who are 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.
Scholarships will be awarded in the amount of $5,000. Scholarship funds are sent directly to recipient’s schools to be applied to tuition and fees. These funds are not eligible for living expenses.
- Associates Bachelors
- Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
- Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science (PhD)
Be enrolled in, accepted, or in the process of applying for an undergraduate or graduate level nursing program within three months of the scholarship application. Recipients must be enrolled as an undergraduate or graduate student at an accredited college or university in the following academic year.
The Elizabeth Thomas Legacy Scholarship Committee will review scholarship applications and select recipients.
Timeline for 2023 Scholarship Submission
- Application opens: Monday, April 24, 2023
- Application closes: Friday, June 9, 2023
- Award notifications: Mid-July 2023
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 the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, 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.
Liz 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."
Liz 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.
Liz’s 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 Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic and extended across the nation. Liz 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 other organizations. 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 a scholarship was created in her honor to assist underrepresented groups with access to nursing education. The scholarship was named the Elizabeth Thomas Legacy Scholarship.
For questions and concerns contact Workforceplanning@seattlechildrens.org.