Scholarship plants new opportunities for migrant farmworker families, names inaugural recipient

As a public health nurse serving migrant farmworkers, Joan McGuire saw firsthand the need for nurses with a strong understanding of the challenges and issues – including language barriers – faced by migrant workers who travel to do seasonal farmwork.

McGuire at a migrant worker clinic“Serving this population was the most rewarding work I ever had,” said McGuire of her nearly 20 years working with migrant farmworkers. “The people were from all over the world. I felt like I really made a difference.” 

Prompted by the pandemic, McGuire began to seriously consider estate and legacy planning. So, in 2022 she established the Migrant Farmworker Nursing Scholarship Endowment at the North Carolina Community Foundation to provide renewable scholarships for children and grandchildren of migrant farmworkers statewide to attend nursing school.

The scholarship supports graduating high school seniors and non-traditional students in North Carolina whose parents or grandparents – through birth, adoption or as a stepchild or step-grandchild – are or have been migrant farmworkers.

Rosaria CruzRosaria Cruz is the first recipient of the scholarship. A 2016 graduate of East Duplin High School, Cruz works as a personal trainer in Goldsboro, N.C. She received $1,840, renewable annually, to study nursing at Wayne Community College.

“As a daughter to a farm worker, I witnessed the struggles my mother overcame,” said Cruz. “Being a first-generation college student motivates me to work hard on my goals and set a great example to my daughter.”

In her application, Cruz described the challenges of growing up in a rural community with limited access to health care. Her personal experiences inspired her to pursue a career in nursing.

“Nurses are essential every day,” she wrote. “I want to be able to help others in the same way I was helped.”

With this scholarship, McGuire hopes to provide migrant farmworkers’ children and grandchildren the opportunity to become a nurse while staying connected to their communities. In turn, the migrant worker community will benefit from additional public health nurses who can provide more culturally competent care.

Joan McGuireMcGuire selected the North Carolina Community Foundation to house the scholarship because of its statewide reach and focus on rural communities. She wants aspiring nurses from across North Carolina to apply.

“I want to grow this endowment to give the families of migrant farm workers options,” says McGuire.

Learn more about the Migrant Farmworker Nursing Scholarship or contribute, visit