Three SMHS students receive major Giving Hearts Day scholarships

The UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS), in partnership with Dakota Medical Foundation (DMF), is pleased to announce that three scholarships worth $12,500 each have been awarded to three randomly chosen SMHS students. The scholarships are part of Dakota Medical Foundation’s annual Giving Hearts Day, which occurred on February 14, 2019.

SMHS Giving Hearts Scholarship winners for 2019:

  • Shenae LaCroix, a second-year physical therapy student from Newcastle, Wyo., received the Dr. Susan Zelewski Giving Hearts Scholarship.
  • Brooke Lentz, a third-year medical student from Rolla, N.D., received the Dr. David Schmitz Giving Hearts Scholarship.
  • Andrea Lerick, a junior from Savage, Minn., majoring in medical laboratory science, received the Dr. Steffen Christensen Giving Hearts Scholarship.

“Many of us, as students and future health professionals, are always wanting to help others and are looking for the best fit for us for a job,” said LaCroix. “But it seems that where I want to end up and where I need to end up often come down to salary and student loan repayment, rather than the patient population or where we want to practice. [With this scholarship] I will be better able to pursue a job as a physical therapist—hopefully specializing in pediatrics—that’s a better fit for me.”

Full-time SMHS students in any of the School’s eight degree-granting programs—medicine, medical laboratory science, athletic training, occupational therapy, physical therapy, physician assistant studies, master of public health, and graduate students in the departments of Biomedical Sciences and Clinical and Translational Science—who registered for the opportunity were eligible to win. Donors who gave $1,000 or more to the SMHS through the Giving Hearts Day website received one chance to have one of the scholarships named in their honor.

“I am so immensely grateful to the generous donors—it is more appreciated than anyone could ever know,” added Lentz, who will put the money toward medical school tuition and expects to specialize in a primary care field. “I anticipate increasing costs next year, as I take board exams, apply to residency, and interview at programs across the nation, so this scholarship will definitely be helpful. I’ve been dependent on student loans, so it is such a relief knowing that this scholarship can help offset that burden. I have been contemplating doing an international rotation next year but was hesitant due to the cost. Having this scholarship definitely makes it seem like a more feasible possibility!”

Lowering student debt has been a priority of the SMHS of late. In a recent survey administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges, graduating medical students cited “ability to pay off debt” as one of their top concerns entering the medical profession. This concern affects students’ choice of specialization and practice location, which, in turn, has an effect on the physician workforce in North Dakota.

“We hope these Giving Hearts scholarships inspire students to realize that giving is transformative,” concluded DMF President Pat Traynor. “What a great opportunity to engage UND’s generous alumni, who are helping our future healthcare professionals pay down some of their debt. We never want money to be a barrier that keeps anyone from entering the health field and serving the people of our state.”