Three graduate students in Augsburg University’s health professions programs have been awarded competitive scholarships to encourage their future plans to serve in rural communities. Michaela Althaus ’24 MSPAS, Evan Bloyer ’27 PsyD, and Gwen Hermanson ’24 MSW will each receive $25,000 to support their studies this academic year.
Provided in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Health’s Office of Rural Health and Primary Care, each scholarship includes an agreement with MDH to practice in a rural area of Minnesota for two years following graduation. The funding for the scholarships is a new opportunity for Augsburg students, in addition to a larger health equity grant awarded to Augsburg’s Physician Assistant Program in 2023 to train students to practice in rural and underserved communities. When students train in rural and underserved settings, they are more likely to return upon graduating.
For each of the three scholarship recipients, the commitment to serving rural communities represents a return to their roots. “Working in rural healthcare settings over the past 10 years with underserved populations as both a nursing assistant and counselor for adolescent mental health and addiction has provided me with a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities inherent in these areas,” said Althaus. “From remote clinics to close-knit communities, I have witnessed the resilience and cultural richness that define rural Minnesota and the health systems within.”
Associate Professor and PA Program Director Vanessa Bester applied for the grant on behalf of Augsburg’s health professions programs. “We are proud to support outstanding Augsburg students like Michaela, Evan, and Gwen in their journey to address healthcare disparities in rural Minnesota,” she said. “These scholarships are more than just financial assistance; they are a testament to Augsburg’s collective commitment to ensuring equitable access to healthcare for all. With this program, as well as several additional Minnesota Department of Health grants, Augsburg’s health professional graduates are set to make a real difference, shaping a healthier future for everyone in Minnesota.”