Five SMHS students receive major Giving Hearts Day scholarships

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

School of Medicine & Health Sciences


GRAND FORKS, N.D.—The University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), in partnership with Dakota Medical Foundation (DMF), is pleased to announce that five scholarships worth $12,500 each have been awarded to five randomly chosen UND SMHS students. The scholarships are part of Dakota Medical Foundation’s annual Giving Hearts Day, which concluded on February 8, 2018.

SMHS dean Joshua Wynne, MD, with Shelby Wassink and UND Department of Occupational Therapy chair Janet Jedlicka, PhD, OTR/L

SMHS Giving Hearts Day Scholarship winners for 2018 include

Hannah Fiser, a second-year occupational therapy student from Palmer Lake, Colo., winner of the Drs. Don and Mary Ann Sens Giving Hearts Scholarship

Brett Johnson, a second-year medical student from Fargo, N.D., winner of the Drs. Laura and Corey Kroetsch Giving Hearts Scholarship

Erica Nelson, a second-year medical student from Fargo, N.D., winner of the Dr. David and Lola Rognlie Monson Giving Hearts Scholarship

Michelle Sanders, a third-year physical therapy student from Brooten, Minn., winner of the Lunn Family Giving Hearts Scholarship

Shelby Wassink, a second-year occupational therapy student from Hastings, Minn., winner of the Colin and Kumi Combs Giving Hearts Scholarship

“I obviously wasn’t expecting to win, but as I was registering I thought ‘Well, maybe!’” said Nelson, who will be back in Fargo for the first half of her third year before transitioning to Jamestown to participate UND’s Rural Opportunities in Medical Education (ROME) program. “And now after hearing the news, I’m overjoyed! This scholarship will certainly help me pay off my medical school debt.”

Full-time SMHS students in any of the School’s eight degree-granting programs—doctor of medicine, medical laboratory science, sports medicine, 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 DMF website were given the chance to win the right to name one of the scholarships.

In all, the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences raised over $30,000 on Giving Hearts Day, all of which was matched by DMF for a total of more than $60,000 for students—a remarkable sum for a first-time event.

“When we initially planned this Giving Hearts Day scholarship program, we envisioned awarding only two scholarships,” added Dr. Joshua Wynne, dean of the SMHS and vice president for health affairs at UND. “But due to the generosity of the School’s many friends and donors, two scholarships became five, almost overnight.”

Lowering all students’ debt has been a priority of SMHS leaders in recent years. In a recent survey administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), graduating medical students cited their “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 this project inspired the young people who signed up for these scholarships to realize that giving is transformative,” added DMF President Pat Traynor. “There’s an almost unlimited potential for engaging alumni to help offset student debt for our future health service providers, which is vital. We don’t ever want money to be a barrier that keeps anyone from entering the health field and serving our state in this way. This money all goes right to students, and that’s very cool.”

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Brian James Schill

Assistant Director, Office of Alumni & Community Relations

University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences

701.777.2733 direct | 701.777.4503 office |