“I hope my education and training is only the beginning of what is to come in my future.”
— Tiffany Phillips, recipient of the 2008 Naibert Scholarship
Tiffany Phillips, the first ever winner of the Corvallis Clinic Foundation’s James R. Naibert Scholarship, will complete her final year of Oregon Institute of Technology’s radiology science program in an externship at The Corvallis Clinic.
The Naibert Scholarship is named in honor of James R. Naibert, who works in The Corvallis Clinic’s Immediate Care Center and previously was a family physician for 11 years at The Corvallis Clinic’s Waverly Drive/Albany office. His patients chose to recognize his efforts by establishing the scholarship for area students who demonstrate an interest in working in a health-related profession that involves direct patient care.
Five years ago, Phillips walked away from her job as a restaurant prep cook to enroll in college, only to learn two months later that she was pregnant. But her feet were already planted on a path of self-determination, leading her away from a life of poverty. Phillip’s journey will culminate at graduation next spring, when she becomes the first person in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree.
Since arriving at The Clinic, Phillips said she’s getting used to wearing a white coat and the realization of her dreams coming true. She hopes to make a difference in the lives of her patients, as well as her 4-year-old daughter.
“I hope my education and training is only the beginning of what is to come in my future,” Phillips said.
The youngest girl from a blended family with eight children, Phillips grew up in Mill City in rural Linn County, where her father worked at the lumber mill. When the mill closed, her father became a mechanic, but her family was not well off financially. Phillips and her brothers and sisters started working at a young age to help support the family. She recalled times when she ate at friends’ houses because there wasn’t enough food at home.
In high school, Phillips was captain of the cheerleading squad and sang in the choir. She kept good grades, graduating with her twin sister in 2000. But Phillips dismissed the idea of continuing her education because she didn’t think she could afford it.
“I thought, ‘There’s no way I can go to college,’” she said.
So she worked in restaurants. But after a few years of hard work and barely making more than minimum wage, she’d had enough.
“This was not how I wanted to live my life,” she said.
Phillips discovered a program to match her artistic abilities and her interest in healthcare at OIT. She struggled to make As and Bs with the school’s stiff grading curve and overcame test anxiety. She accepted public assistance, lived off food stamps, and eventually received subsidized housing. Her daughter attended childcare while she was in class.
Phillips said she’s grateful for the generosity and encouragement she received, including the $1,000 Naibert Scholarship from The Corvallis Clinic Foundation.
She’s also grateful for her parents’ love and direction. Her father encouraged the women in her family to be strong-willed and confident. And though her mother never learned to read or write, she had endless patience and devotion.
The move to Corvallis has brought Phillips closer to her parents, who now live in Salem. She said her mother is practicing writing, and reading the easy-reader books to her granddaughter. Phillips has even inspired a sister-in-law to go back to school, and she encourages others to pursue their dreams.
“If I can do it,” she said, “anyone can.”