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October 8, 2021

SVSU graduates earn competitive scholarship while attending PA, dentistry school

Two recent Saginaw Valley State University graduates have been rewarded for their commitment to caring for underserved populations in healthcare. 

used for story bodyKaitlyn Bailey, a 2018 health sciences graduate, and Lauren Richardson, a 2021 biochemistry graduate, each received the HRSA (Health Resources & Services Administration) National Health Service Corps Scholarship, which provides full tuition and fees, plus a monthly stipend for living expenses, to students pursuing eligible primary care health professions training. In return, scholars provide primary care health services in areas that have a shortage of primary, dental or mental health care providers for a number of years after graduation. 

Bailey is pursuing a Master of Physician Assistant Studies at MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston. The Grand Rapids native said she always had a soft spot for underserved communities, but a study abroad trip to the African nation of Zambia with Rene Hernandez, her mentor and SVSU associate professor of health sciences, cemented that interest into a passion. 

“Kaitlyn was really adamant to not just limit her understanding to textbook knowledge, so she sought lots of experience to help her grow and just explore more about the needs of such communities,” said Heidi Lang, SVSU pre-health professions advisor. 

Richardson is in dental school at Midwestern University in Chicago. The Grand Ledge native’s undergraduate experience was enriched by partnerships with local organizations. 

“Lauren’s most notable experience with was with Great Lakes Bay Health centers, specifically volunteering with and shadowing Dr. Joseph Vanfleteren as they provided dental care to the underserved,” said Lang. 

The HRSA NHSC Scholarship Program is highly competitive. Only 11% of those who applied in 2020 earned awards (251 recipients out of 2,250 eligible applicants). 

“Opportunities like this are few and far between,” Lang said. 

Other SVSU alumni have also received the scholarship. Caitlin Durkee, a 2020 graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology, received the scholarship for dental school at the University of Michigan. Logan Schuiteman, a 2014 graduate (B.S., biology), received the scholarship while pursuing her degree at the University of Louisville and is a practicing dentist in Appleton, Wis.