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Health Equity Scholarships 2023

Following up from our last post about scholarships, our PA program is proud to announce the recipients of the Health Equity Scholarship (granted through MDH). This scholarship is aimed at increasing healthcare professionals in less accessible areas, and is awarded to students planning on entering healthcare for rural and underserved areas.

When students train in rural and underserved settings, they are more likely to return upon graduating. Increasing training opportunities in rural and underserved settings for health professionals can ultimately increase access to health care in rural and underserved communities in Minnesota.


gallery of the mdh scholarship winners

When discussing the scholarship and their current and future clinical experiences, they each had the following to highlight about themselves:

Nicholle, after visiting a clinic that works with LGBTQ+ individuals, learned more about individual’s experiences and the barriers that the community faces, notes that “I strive to give each patient the individual attention they deserve and listen to their stories with respect. It is vital to learn about people with different backgrounds in order to be a better provider.”

In rural areas like CHI St. Gabriel’s Health Family Medical Center, Kelsey was able to see the strength of having connections with individual patient and “I believe seeing the patient as a whole person can give value to the quality of care I want to strive for in my career.  Each patient has an intricate unique story that has needs that might be beyond the routine checklist”.

Ron Toledo Cardoso in his clinical rotations, has seen firsthand the effects of the barriers of healthcare, “While I am interested in working with the underserved population, I have a specific interest in the Hispanic population. There is recognized healthcare gap in access to healthcare, leading to poor health outcomes for the Hispanic population.” he states he will continue to be an advocate for patients who may not know what resources are available to them.

One student with a wider range of experience, Amanda, mentions her previous 2 rotations including Sanford Worthington Medical Center and Urgent Care in Worthington, MN. She notes challenges int his kind of setting:

“I realized the amount of responsibility there is in being a rural provider. Often waiting days for consults, she would need to make independent decisions to develop plans for patients to receive timely care. Also understanding that facilities and resources for more advanced care are hours away, we would need to make thoughtful considerations into when it was appropriate to transfer.”

Lauren Altman, who was with Hennepin Healthcare, found how to navigate her own biases, and took away important tools for getting future patients the resources they need:

“I learned to throw judgment out the window, treat the whole person and focus on making decisions which will benefit each patient long term. It was here I learned the importance of cultural humility, listening, building trust, and having empathy in caring for these patients. I greatly appreciate the efforts this hospital is making toward healthcare equality.”


Our final recipient has already had some broad experience as a pediatrician in Syria, and drew on her prior knowledge and explained her rural rotations were beneficial as “I got more experience when rural communities depended on me to be available all hours of the day and night. As a result, I often ended up significantly better, and spent more time with my patients.” she continues to state she wants to continue helping children and families get care with fewer barriers.

We congratulate all our recipients!


Scholarship Awards for 2023

Augsburg University’s PA Program is proud to announce our latest round of scholarship awards to our first- and second-year cohorts.

tile collage of scholarship students



The first scholarship is the Dr Kristofer and Mrs. Bertha E. Hagen Scholarship. Awarded annually to a student who is enrolled in the physician assistant, nursing, pre-medical or other appropriate health care-related program, the scholarship benefits students planning to volunteer or to practice in a Third World country and/or in underserved populations in the United States. Established in 1996 with gifts from the trust estate of the late Mrs. Bertha E. Hagen ’28 and her late husband, Dr. Kristofer Hagen ’29, as an expression of their dedication to missions.” We have chosen Amanda Bartosh, class of 2023 to receive this scholarship. In her time with the program, Amanda has worked hard in the past at refugee camps in Chiangmai, and has continued to put an emphasis on serving underdeveloped and underserved areas. She notes that in her time during clinical rotations in rural areas of Minnesota,

“The providers I worked with used their full scope of practice because of the limited resources. The work was challenging but extremely rewarding. I began picturing myself in their roles and getting excited about my future patient provider relationships and the growth I’d make as a practitioner. I want to serve in an area that truly needs my skills and where I can make the most impact.”


The second scholarship has allowed us to provide financial aid to multiple students of ours. The Alne-Swensen Scholarship is awarded annually to a student of any academic class who is preparing for a career in health care. Established in 1992 by Ernest and Helen Alne, Hemet, Calif., to encourage promising students and honor the memory of nurse Trine Swensen. We were able to select 4 of our students, Kao Neng Vang, Brittany Noble, Binh Vu, and Kim Day. Among the 4 of them, they have all expressed a desire to provide the best care possible to represent the program.

When thinking of the profession, each student had this to say: Kao would “love to be a provider, an educator, and a friend to those in need.” Brittany recalls experiences with past patients and “Whether it be reading Curious George, or honoring the memory of a loved one, as a PA I will empower patients with the comprehensive healthcare needed to do what matters most.” Binh discusses the social barriers of patients and commits “my passion for medicine is not only to treat diseases and help people take care of their health, but also to provide affordable care for people with socioeconomic disadvantages.” Kim highlights her ability to meet the program’s mission and expectations including “taking on the rigor of this fast paced, competitive, and challenging course load, and am proud of myself for being able to not only to meet the expectations of the program and its faculty, but to exceed those expectations and thrive within the high-pressure environment.”


The final scholarship awarded this time around was the Dahlberg and Peterson Family Scholarship. Awarded to Vanessa Amanor, the Dahlberg and Peterson Family Scholarship will provide encouragement and financial assistance to one or more upper class students preparing for a Christian vocation or for a student in their final years of the Physician Assistant program who plans to work with a multicultural population. Vanessa has has a huge impact on the program to encourage learning diversity from the start, identifying biases, and she goes on to note that during her clinical rotations, “My goal was to provide tools for self-advocacy to communities that often face enormous barriers to medical care for serious conditions, much less routine preventative care.”


Congratulations to all of our students who applied and who have received the scholarships! Check out later in the week as we reveal the winners of our Health Equity Scholarships (MDH).

2023 Health Professional Clinical Training Expansion Grant Program

Augsburg University’s PA program is proud to share some information about the grant we received this last January that helps support not only our program, but allows for support across all our graduate programs including Music Therapy, Social Work, Nursing, PsyD, and PA.


The grant, awarded by the Minnesota Department of Health, was granted to us for the following program goal here at Augsburg: Clinical Preceptorships, Telehealth, & Health Equity Scholarship Program.

The goal of this funding is to increase the number of health professionals working in rural and underserved locations through expanding the opportunity for students to train in those settings. When students train in rural and underserved settings, they are more likely to return upon graduating. With established expertise in health equity, cultural responsiveness and team-based primary care training, Augsburg University PA, nursing, social work, medical music therapy, and PsyD (health programs) are committed to support and expand team-based clinical training in the state of Minnesota. The PA department is leading this collaboration with the other health programs to accomplish 3 objectives: expand clinical training sites, provide student financial support, and establish a telehealth curriculum that will prepare Augsburg health professions students to increase health care access in rural and underserved communities across Minnesota.
We are proud to report that Augsburg University was awarded the grant’s maximum amount of $300,000 over 3 years to carry out this work. Vanessa Bester, EdD, PA-C, PA Program Director is the PI for this grant.


Scholarship Spotlight: The Dawn Ludwig Legacy Scholarship

We are proud to announce our winner for the Dawn Ludwig Legacy Scholarship for 2022: Megan Knoll!

megan knoll dressed in an Ausgburg labelled whitecoat and smiling at the camera

The Dawn Ludwig Legacy Scholarship was established to honor the legacy of the first Augsburg PA Program Director, Dawn Ludwig. The intent of this scholarship is to recognize, encourage and provide financial support to a Physician Assistant student in their final year of study. The Dawn Ludwig Legacy Scholarship is awarded to students who show academic achievement and financial need, and who have exhibited the positive qualities and spirit that Dawn demonstrated and taught throughout her career, including professionalism, leadership, community engagement and service, commitment to family and faith, clinical aptitude, and a personal conviction to “do what’s right for its own sake”.

Megan has demonstrated great skill in the academic courses in her time here with Augsburg University, and she has an aptitude for putting her heart into all that she does. When looking into the scholarship she mentions the importance of doing what she can for the community, including setting up and leading free and educational health screening events. Megan goes on to say:


“I will not always be right, but I will “do what’s right for its own sake”. I accept that I will not always know every answer, but I know that I can seek the help and expertise from my team and use my skills in research to find the solution. The most exciting part of this field is the lifelong learning and discovery that comes with it. Once established in my practice, I plan to pass my knowledge and skills to students as a clinical preceptor and be a spokesperson for recruiting providers and nurses in underserved regions.”


We are proud to have Megan in our class of 2022 and can’t wait to see what she will accomplish as she carries out the legacy of Dawn Ludwig in her time as a PA student and as a future PA in rural regions. Congratulations, Megan!

Scholarship Spotlight: Alne-Swensen Scholarship

The Augsburg PA Program is proud to recognize four winners of this year’s Alne-Swensen Scholarship! Shamso Jama, Class of 2022, and Ethan Dekam, Emma Delaney, and Kelsey Reineke, Class of 2023 all won awards. The scholarship fund was established in 1992 to encourage promising health care students and to honor the memory of Trine Swensen.

Shamso Jama, Class of 2022, was born in Somalia but emigrated to the US as a child.  She received her BA in Biology from the University of MN and has made significant research contributions focused on mental health and substance abuse with a goal of improving outcomes for vulnerable populations.

I intend to continue pursuing research interests that focus on improving outcomes for vulnerable populations. The award of this scholarship will ensure that I expand my research interests in the future and promote evidence-based interventions for underserved communities.”

Ethan Dekam, Class of 2023, received his BA in Biology with a minor in Psychology from St John’s University.  Ethan credits his drive to be successful in PA school to a passion for lifelong learning and selfless service that he learned from his family. Ethan hopes to honor the memory of his father through his determination to give back to the community as a PA.

“PA school can be overwhelming at times so it is important for me to keep my sights set on my “why” for going to PA school when things get difficult.”

Emma Delaney, Class of 2023, earned her BA in Biology with a minor in Theology from University of St Thomas and worked as a CNA prior to starting PA school. She is excited to begin the clinical phase of the program and have an impact on her patients.

“Building patient relationships was so special to me. I feel as a PA I will still be able to make those close connections while being able to do more procedural medicine which really interests me.”

Kelsey Reineke, Class of 2023, has a BS in Respiratory Therapy from North Dakota State University and worked as a respiratory therapist and Children’s Hospital Minnesota prior to starting PA school. She has a passion for patient education and says as a respiratory therapist she found the greatest reward for herself and for patients and their families was through education.

“I believe I made a difference in many lives by presenting information that was concise, effective, and understandable to a wide variety of education levels… I want to bring my passion for education to the community where I will work and help people live their best and healthiest lives.”

The Augsburg PA Program is proud of all of these students’ accomplishments.  They exemplify the program’s mission to educate empathic, community-minded, and forward-thinking health care leaders to practice in primary care with a focus on underserved, underrepresented, and marginalized communities.  Congratulations to them all.

Scholarship Spotlight: Dahlberg and Peterson Family Award

Nguyen “Rosie” VuCongratulations to Nguyen “Rosie” Vu, Class of 2022, for winning the Dahlberg and Peterson Family Scholarship! The families established this scholarship to support a student in their final years of the Physician Assistant program, with special consideration given to students who plan to work with multicultural populations.

Rosie is originally from Vietnam where she earned her Doctor of Medicine degree. After moving to the US with her parents, she worked as a medical scribe before entering the PA Program.  Rosie hopes to continue to fulfill her mission to serve multicultural communities and to contribute to the diversity of our country.

“I understand that medical providers must understand how each patient’s sociocultural background affects their health maintenance behaviors and medical outcomes. In addition, medical providers should not assume that all patients could obtain, process, and understand the basic health information needed to make appropriate health decisions or to follow treatment plans, especially for minority communities.”

We are proud to have Rosie in our 2022 cohort, and appreciate the Dahlberg and Peterson families for offering this award to help support her studies.

Scholarship Spotlight: Dr. Kristofer and Mrs. Bertha E. Hagen Scholarship

 Ronald ToledoWe wish to congratulate Ronald Toledo, Class of 2023, for being awarded the Dr. Kristofer and Mrs. Bertha E. Hagen Scholarship! This award was established to support students who plan to volunteer or practice in medically underserved communities throughout the world and within the United States.

Ronald was born and raised in Cuba where he experienced the lack of access and resources to meet basic healthcare needs.  He moved to the US nine years ago for better opportunities for his family.  Ronald is dedicated to giving back to Hispanic and other underserved communities as a PA.

“There is a significant healthcare gap in access to healthcare, leading to poor health outcomes for the Hispanic population. I aspire to be an advocate for future patients from underserved populations to ensure they receive the healthcare they need and deserve, ultimately being a PA that contributes to decreasing long-standing gaps for social determinants of health.”

Ronald embodies the mission of the Augsburg PA Program so we are proud to award him this scholarship.


Mayan Aideed, Augsburg PA Program Student
Maryan Aideed, Class of 2023

Congratulations to Maryan Aideed, Class of 2023, for having been awarded the National Health Service Corps Scholarship. The NHSC builds healthy communities by supporting qualified health care providers dedicated to working in areas of the United States with limited access to care. The NHSC scholarship is a highly competitive award that pays for all PA school tuition, provides monthly living expenses while in school, and other costs like books, fees and medical equipment and in return, scholars work for two years in a medically underserved area in primary care. Awardees demonstrate their commitment to primary care and in serving communities that need medical providers most.

Maryan says about the scholarship; “I am so honored and grateful to be the recipient of the National Health Service Corps Scholarship. It is truly rewarding to be immersed in my passion and get an award for serving underserved and underrepresented communities in primary and preventative health care. This is in perfect alignment with my own mission and values, so I couldn’t be more grateful. Thank you to all who have helped with this achievement, including the remarkable faculty, and mentors here at Augsburg University and in the PA program.”

We are proud to have Maryan in our 2023 cohort, and we thank the National Health Service Corps for offering this scholarship to generously support Maryan in her PA studies at Augsburg University.

Congratulations, Megan Knoll PA-S2!

Megan Knoll, Augsburg PA-S2We are so happy to announce that Megan Knoll, of the Class of 2022, has recently awarded the AAPA Rural Health Caucus Scholarship – her second scholarship win this year. Megan is one of 26 PA students to be awarded a scholarship through the PA Foundation in 2021. She had this to say, regarding her award: “As I enter the clinical phase of my education, I could not be more thrilled to receive this scholarship supporting my mission to become a rural primary care provider. I am eager to raise my family in a small town and fight for the cause of increasing access to quality health care in underserved farming/ranching communities of South Dakota.”

Scholarship Spotlight: Alne-Swensen Scholarship

Scholarship recipient Megan Knoll
Megan Knoll, `22

The Augsburg PA Program is proud to recognize four winners of this year’s Alne-Swensen Scholarship! Megan Knoll, Class of 2022, and Merari Morales Rosales, Nicholas Becker, and Taneasha Muonio, Class of 2021 all won awards. The scholarship fund was established in 1992 to encourage promising health care students and to honor the memory of Trine Swensen.

Megan Knoll, Class of 2022, came to Augsburg with prior healthcare experience in rural South Dakota, where she plans to work again after graduation. She attributes her drive to pursue a PA education in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic to her joy for medicine. “To say PA school is stressful is an understatement, but even on the toughest of weeks I can pull out my joy for medicine from the endless heap of lecture slides, exams, and student loans. I get to learn and grow and adapt every single day in a field that consistently advances for the good of humanity.” Thank you for sharing your joy Megan, and congratulations!

Scholarship recipient Merari Morales Rosales
Merari Morales Rosales `21

Meraro Morales Rosales, Class of 2021, immigrated to the US at 18 years old. The experience of adapting to a new country and culture – all on his own – fostered in Merari “the grit and discipline [to] succeed as a student.” This experience will surely inform Merari’s practice as a PA, and benefit his future patients. We are proud to recognize Merari with the Alne-Swensen Scholarship, and with the Dahlberg and Peterson Family Scholarship as well. Congratulations, Merari!

Scholarship recipient Nicholas Becker
Nicholas Becker, `21

Nicholas Becker, Class of 2021, is a first-generation college student nearing the end of his Physician Assistant studies. Through his health care career as a CNA, Nicholas has demonstrated his willingness to go above and beyond the expectations of his role, to ensure the residents of the nursing home he worked at received quality care. Nicholas is excited to work as a PA because of “the opportunity [PA’s have] to collaborate with both healthcare professionals and the patients themselves when it comes to making decisions about their health.” We want to congratulate Nicholas on receiving this award, and for nearing the end of PA graduate school as a first-generation college student!

Taneasha Muonio, `21

Taneasha Muonio, Class of 2021, completed her undergrad in Biopsychology at Augsburg before enrolling in the graduate PA program. She brings a wealth of vital social work experience to her health care studies. “Providing high quality health care to all is a part of our oath as PA’s. That means mastering the medical material we are learning, but also broadening our knowledge of diverse populations, cultures, and experiences.” Taneasha is passionate about lessening the documented disparities in treatment and outcomes for patients of color, and we are proud to celebrate her and her mission with this scholarship.

Thank you, family of Ernet and Helen Alne, for supporting our students and honoring the memory of Trine Swenson with this scholarship fund.