Published on May 20, 2021

Health Care Foundation Awards Jim Spruiell Memorial Scholarships

Jim Spruiell scholarship recipiants

Jim Spruiell’s wife, Lisa (far left), and daughter, Madison (far right), were on hand to present the Jim Spruiell Memorial Scholarship to (from left) Rachel Spencer, McKenna Clark, Bailee Caples, Kaitlyn Langlee and Brooke Ewing. 

TUPELO, Miss.—Family and friends recently presented the second annual Jim Spruiell Memorial Scholarship to Bailee Caples, McKenna Clark, Brooke Ewing, Kaitlyn Langlee and Rachel Spencer.

The Jim Spruiell Memorial Scholarship is awarded to individuals who are pursuing a career in an emergency health care-related field. Spruiell was one of three people who died Nov. 19, 2017, in a medical helicopter crash in rural Arkansas. The helicopter, which was operated by Pafford EMS and Air Methods, was en route from Pine Bluff, Ark., to DeWitt, Ark., when the crash occurred.

Spruiell joined the North Mississippi Medical Center family in 1992 as a paramedic and later transferred to CareFlight as a flight paramedic. He earned an associate degree in nursing and transitioned into the role of flight nurse in 2000. He was promoted to chief flight nurse in 2015. Spruiell acquired many professional accreditations and graciously shared his knowledge and passion with others.

Caples is a 2021 graduate of Mantachie High School and plans to attend Itawamba Community College and pursue a career as a critical care nurse. She was actively involved in competitive cheerleading, track and field and powerlifting, along with volunteering for the Special Olympics. She was also in the Anchor Club, Health Occupations Students of America, SkillsUSA and Junior Civitans.  In 2017, Caples was airlifted to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee because of seizures. Her flight nurse was Jim Spruiell. “He waited in the medical room with me until my family arrived at the hospital. He comforted me and told me everything would be OK. I found out two days later that he passed away. Ever since, I felt like my purpose in life was to help others like Jim Spruiell did for me and every one of his patients,” she wrote in her application. 

Clark is a 2017 graduate of Sulligent High School and plans to attend Bevill State Community College to pursue a career as a registered nurse. She is currently enrolled at BSCC-Fayette in the associate degree program. She has served as a volunteer for the Humane Society and an animal rescue organization. “In the nursing program and working clinicals, I have realized that caring for patients doesn’t only mean in a medical way,” Clark wrote in her application. “A lot of people just need a friendly face and a smile and someone’s time to sit with them and have a conversation. I have found great satisfaction in being able to uplift someone’s spirit. Mr. Jim Spruiell was the epitome of compassion and caring and I would be very honored and privileged to uphold his standard of care.”

Ewing is a 2002 graduate of Tremont High School and is pursuing a degree in nursing at ICC. She is a mother of four, currently works at a medical clinic as an office manager, is an active volunteer with the Fulton Fire Department and is also enrolled in the EMT program at ICC. Her goal is to work in an Emergency Room or other emergency services as a registered nurse. “During my time working in the clinic my passion for a career in health care grew,” she wrote in her application. “I am truly passionate about emergency medicine.”

Langley is a 2017 graduate of Itawamba Agricultural High School and is attending the University of Mississippi to pursue a degree in nursing. At Ole Miss, she played in the Pride of the South Marching Band, the Pride of the South Basketball Band, the Ole Miss Symphonic Band and the Ole Miss Wind Ensemble. Her mother worked as an emergency nurse, which fed Langley’s desire to become a physician. “During my first semester in college, I was told the story of Jim Spruiell from my parents, both of whom worked alongside him for years. Hearing his story and how he viewed every patient as a unique opportunity to serve his community and God showed me that every medical employee can change a patient’s life.” A year later, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and expressed the care shown to her by her nurse. “After hearing both stories, I knew I could change someone’s life by being a support for them when they needed it most. As a nurse, I would have closer patient interaction and more opportunities to serve the individual.”

Spencer graduated with special distinction with a 4.52 weighted GPA from Saltillo High School. She plans to attend the University of Mississippi to pursue a degree in nursing. She is involved in mission work through her school and church and has participated in several service projects with North Mississippi Medical Center. She was an All American Cheerleader and actively involved in extracurricular activities at Saltillo High School, including church youth group, Beta Club, Anchor Club, REACH Club and Future Business Leaders of America. “Working in the medical field has been a dream of mine since I was a small child,” she wrote in her application. “I am so excited to have the opportunity to go into a career field that I feel so passionate about.”

Scholarship recipients can include those pursuing a career as a trauma surgeon, emergency medicine physician, registered nurse, paramedic or emergency medical technician (EMT). Recipients can be high school seniors preparing to enter college or individuals currently in the workforce about to embark on a second career. The Jim Spruiell Memorial Scholarship is founded in memory of his impressive work ethic and passion to help others, whether in the field or in the classroom. His wife Lisa will serve on the selection committee each year. To learn more or to donate to the Jim Spruiell Memorial Scholarship, visit

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