The Association for Community Affiliated Plans (ACAP) established a tuition scholarship in 2011 to provide financial assistance to an enrollee or family member of an ACAP health plan member who is seeking higher education to pursue a career in health care or social services. At present, one $5,000 scholarship will be awarded to one enrollee at an ACAP health plan selected by the ACAP Scholarship Program Selection Committee, and the monies are sent directly to the higher education institution of the awardee’s choice to be applied to tuition costs. The scholarship was established to help strengthen the public health care and social services workforce and to highlight the benefits of Medicaid managed care.

The ACAP Scholarship is supported by Altruista Health.

For more information, contact Jeff Van Ness.


2021- Emily Riewerts 

Emily Riewerts, a graduating high school senior from Kelseyville, California, is the winner of its eleventh annual National Scholarship Essay Contest. Emily was nominated by Partnership HealthPlan of California (PHC).

Emily has been a PHC member since she was born in 2002 with a full bilateral cleft lip and palate. She had her first surgery at three months old and has since undergone more than ten other surgeries, including a cleft lip and palate repair, two nose augmentations, five sets of ear tubes, and three lip repairs. Emily and her family live in a rural area many miles away from the health care specialists her condition requires.  Every trip she made to receive care was a “6-hour round trip.”

Emily will attend California State University, Sacramento. She intends to study psychology and sociology in hopes of pursuing a career in social work, including better understanding the impacts of the social determinants of health on a person’s mental and physical well-being.

2020- Chloe Schmidt

Chloe Schmidt of Fallston, Md. was named the winner of the 2020 ACAP Scholarship Essay Contest. Chloe was nominated by Priority Partners.

Chloe has been a member of Priority Partners MCO of Maryland since she was three years old, when she lost her leg as a result of a traumatic accident. Chloe’s winning essay details her gratitude for the plan and its support of her and her family through various surgeries, covering her surgeries, prosthetic needs, physical therapy, and mental health counseling. She is enrolled at Clemson University where she plans to study Biological Sciences and pursue a career in medicine.

2019 – Joanna Valenzuela

Joanna Valenzuela of Modesto, Calif. was named the winner of the 2019 ACAP Scholarship Essay Contest. Joanna was nominated by Health Plan of San Joaquin—whose nominees have been selected by a panel of independent judges in three of the past six scholarship contests.

An honors graduate with degrees in biology and physics from University of California, Merced, Joanna is studying nursing at Modesto Junior College and will soon transfer to California State University—Stanislaus to complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Her long-term goal is to become a nurse practitioner and work in underrepresented communities in Stanislaus County.

2018 – Danielle Parks

Danielle Parks is a member of Health Plan of San Joaquin (HPSJ) in California. Her winning essays detailed a personal story of how her HPSJ doctors quickly helped diagnose and treat a medical issue found during a routine check-up. A single mom working hard to support her family while continuing her health care education, Danielle wrote about the immense support and partnership she felt from her doctors and nurses, emphasizing the top-notch treatment she received.

The mounting shortage of health care providers is especially acute in the Central Valley. Danielle, in her submission, also detailed her plans to become a nurse practitioner and serve her home community. Stanislaus County is considered medically underserved and part of an ethnically diverse region. The ACAP scholarship will provide $5,000 to help further her studies as she finishes her nursing studies at Modesto Junior College and goes on to the Bachelor of Science Nursing (BSN) program at California State University, Stanislaus.

2017- Jacqueline Ruddy

See Jackie’s story here.

ACAP named Jacqueline Ruddy, a student at University of California Irvine and a two-time breast cancer survivor, as the winner of its seventh annual Scholarship Essay Contest. Ms. Ruddy recently received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Social Behavior from the University of California Irvine, where she is currently pursuing a Master of Social Work with the goal of becoming a Clinical Social Worker.

Ms. Ruddy is a member of CalOptima. In her winning essays, Ms. Ruddy made it clear the role that CalOptima played in saving her life. Because of CalOptima, she not only beat breast cancer twice; she was able to ensure her two sons had access to affordable healthcare when necessary. Ms. Ruddy emphasized the quality of care she received under CalOptima’s coverage, despite her initial fears that public health insurance would not provide the care needed to beat cancer.

2016- Aneta Maczuga

ACAP and Family Health Network (FHN) in Chicago named Aneta Maczuga, a student at Loyola University of Chicago, as the winner of ACAP’s sixth annual Scholarship Essay Contest. The $2,000 scholarship will help further her studies as a pre-med and psychology major at Loyola.

Ms. Maczuga’s winning essays described the way in which FHN was able to provide her family health coverage at a time when they had been uninsured and in need of coverage despite pre-existing conditions. She highlighted the financial security afforded her family through FHN’s coverage, and her ability to maintain her relationship with her family doctor.

“It brings me great joy to announce one of our very own as the winner of ACAP’s scholarship award for the third time. Aneta has a remarkable work ethic, something that we embrace as a company,” said CEO Keith Kudla.

“We couldn’t be prouder to honor Aneta today,” said Margaret A. Murray, ACAP CEO. “Her record of service and academic achievement are impressive, but it’s her clear dedication to service and a desire to give back that resonated with our judges. Her commitment to her community is an inspiration to all of us. We look forward to her success at Loyola and in what we hope to be a fruitful career in medicine.”

2015- Mayra Sanchez Felasquez

ACAP named Mayra Sanchez Velazquez, a student at Harry S Truman College in Chicago, the winner of the organization’s fifth annual Scholarship Essay Contest. Ms. Sanchez is pursuing a career in pharmacy and is currently working her way through school as a pharmacy technician.

The winning essays Ms. Sanchez wrote describe how Family Health Network (FHN) has provided Ms. Sanchez, an expecting mother, with a team of health providers who work together to assure her wellbeing, physical and otherwise, and are sufficiently flexible to accommodate her busy schedule as a working mother. She also described her motivations for pursuing a doctorate in pharmacy.

“We are extremely proud that one of our very own is receiving this fine distinction for the second year. Mayra exemplifies important values that we embrace as a company,” said Keith Kudla, president and CEO of FHN.

“Mayra is an impressive young woman with a longstanding commitment to serving others – whether it was volunteering in high school or rallying the community to help a neighbor who’s short on funds,” said Margaret A. Murray, ACAP CEO. “That spirit resonates with the service orientation of ACAP’s member Safety Net Health Plans. It’s why we’re delighted to honor Mayra today and look forward to her future success as a pharmacist in her community.”

2014- Caitlin Neary

ACAP has announced that Caitlin Neary has won its fourth annual Scholarship Essay Contest. Neary, a student at MCPHS University, participated in the contest through Well Sense Health Plan of New Hampshire. Ms. Neary is working towards a premedical degree at MCPHS University in Boston in preparation to work as a physician assistant.

Ms. Neary’s essays describe how physicians in Well Sense’s network helped her to get healthy and stay that way through the effective management of her asthma medication—and it provided significant financial protection for her family such that she could not only afford effective medication, but devote time to her studies and volunteer in the community as she works toward a master’s degree at MCPHS.

“Well Sense Health Plan is dedicated to helping our members lead healthy, productive lives,” said Well Sense Health Plan President Susan Coakley. “And we’re absolutely inspired by Caitlin, who I know will excel in the career path she pursues.”

“We’re delighted to honor Caitlin today with our scholarship,” said Margaret A. Murray, ACAP CEO. “And we’re proud of the innovative approaches that Safety Net Health Plans such as Well Sense take in helping people to get healthy and stay healthy—so that their members, like Caitlin, can get the most out of the opportunities afforded by life.”

2012- Quinnita Bellows

ACAP has announced that Chicago resident Quinnita Bellows has won its second annual Scholarship Essay Contest. Bellows, a sophomore at Grinnell College, participated in the contest through Family Health Network of Chicago. Ms. Bellows is working towards an undergraduate degree in psychology at Grinnell College and aspires to earn a doctorate in the field.

Ms. Bellows’ essays detail the close relationship she and her family forged with their family physician and the doctor’s connection to Family Health Network. Her physician made a concerted effort to deliver patient-centered care by taking time to explain health issues and treatment options, and engaged Ms. Bellows and her family by being willing to discuss topics inside and outside the traditional boundaries of health care.

“Sometimes a doctor’s lending an ear can make a bigger difference than writing a prescription – being sensitive to the needs of patients is a hallmark of high-quality care,” said Family Health Network President Keith Kudla. “We’re tremendously proud of Quinnita’s achievements. She would make a terrific psychologist; in fact, I have no doubt that she would excel in the field of her choice.”

“You can summarize most people’s hopes for the future in one phrase: ‘be the best you can be.’ Quinnita’s efforts to make the most of her opportunities inspire all of us,” said Margaret A. Murray, ACAP CEO. “But for many, these opportunities would be out of reach without a vibrant social safety net. Health Plans like Family Health Network play a critical role in delivering quality care to vulnerable, low-income populations—and helping people get and stay healthy goes a long way toward making the most of the opportunities that come their way.”

2011- Shashana Herron

In a ceremony in Denver, ACAP named Shashana Herron the winner of its first annual Scholarship Essay Contest. Herron, a student at the Community College of Denver, won her award through an essay contest and participates through Denver Health Medicaid Choice. She intends to use the scholarship to further her studies at the Community College of Denver and the University of Denver and subsequently pursue a Master’s degree.

Herron’s essays described a years-long struggle with debilitating chronic illness that confined her to a wheelchair. With help from Denver Health Medicaid Choice health coach Karen Valentine, Herron averted a dangerous infection, and spent eight months learning to walk again. Herron credited her ability to turn her life around to a strong support system from her community and from services provided by her Medicaid health plan, and vows to “pay it forward” to give back to those that have given to her.

“Ms. Herron is a shining example of intensive case management working the way it’s supposed to work,” said Dr. Patricia Gabow, CEO and Medical Director, Denver Health and Hospital Authority, the parent organization of Denver Health Medicaid Choice. “I’m delighted that Denver Health could play a role in her turnaround, and look forward to hearing about her success in the future.”

“Shashana topped an impressive field of entrants for our first Scholarship Essay Contest,” added ACAP CEO Meg Murray. “Many of our essays highlighted the difference that skilled care managers in a health plan can make when they have the opportunity to establish relationships with plan enrollees. As public officials seek ways to balance budgets, it’s critical that these safety net programs be maintained. The benefits of a strong social safety net are right there on the surface.”