Story by Amy Raley

Jump to:

The true value of an endowed scholarship is incalculable. To assign worth, one would need to quantify inspiration and the power gained from encouragement as well as dollars spent.

Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates said, “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”

Many HHS alumni and friends are exactly the sort of leaders Bill Gates described. We glimpse a few of them here, along with some of the students they have empowered.

Connie and Brian Birk Nursing Scholarship — Passionate Support

Many HHS alumni and friends are exactly the sort of leaders Bill Gates described. We glimpse a few of them here, along with some of the students they have empowered.

My scholarship not only helped me afford a world-class education as an out-of-state student, but it helped me cover other essential costs that were integral to my nursing education. Elizabeth Hroma ( '16), Connie and Brian Birk Nursing Scholarship recipient

“All of the students who have been awarded our scholarship have had a clear definition of what they’re trying to accomplish,” she says. “Some are looking for advanced degrees, or they want to be nurse anesthetists or nurse practitioners. They all have a vision, and that vision drives their passion.”

Birk places high value on that passion: “Not all students are A students, but if they’re motivated to work hard, they can often outwork people for whom the grades come easily. Our scholarship is for students at a B or above. There are a lot of great B students who work very hard.”

After graduating this past May, Birk scholarship recipient Elizabeth Hroma has been working in Chicago as a registered nurse in the neurology/neurosurgery unit at the University of Chicago Medical Center. She says she will never lose her appreciation for the Birk scholarship.

“We had to travel to clinicals at different hospitals and patient care sites throughout the state, sometimes as far away as Indianapolis,” Hroma recalls. “Because I was driving almost 200 miles some weeks, I was frequently filling up my car with gas.”

Hroma says she plans to continue her nursing education and may go on for her doctoral degree one day.

Paul L. Ziemer Scholarship — Honoring a Mentor

Highly accomplished, grateful and modest, alumnus Jou-Guang Hwang of Taiwan decided to honor the achievements of his professor, mentor and friend when he donated funds to establish the Paul L. Ziemer Scholarship.

Ziemer, former head of the School of Health Sciences, oversaw Hwang as Hwang worked toward his doctorate in health physics in 1986. Since then, the two have stayed in touch, and Ziemer served for a time on the board of directors for Hwang’s company, ATL International (Advanced Technologies and Laboratories International Inc.).

My career goal is to be a rural primary care physician to help with the ever-growing doctor shortage here in the U.S. This scholarship was incredibly helpful. Erin Kay (HSCI '18), Paul L. Ziemer Scholarship recipient

Ziemer, who was appointed by President George W. Bush as chairman of the U.S. Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health, had served earlier as assistant secretary of energy for environment, safety and health for President George H.W. Bush. As head of the School of Health Sciences, Ziemer led teaching and research programs in industrial hygiene and occupational health, health physics, environmental health, and medical technology.

The Ziemer scholarship is given each year to a freshman who demonstrates superior scholastic achievement as well as an interest in research within the School of Health Sciences. Students with a GPA of 3.0 or better are considered. Priority is given to students who are children of employees of Hwang’s company, and who enhance the racial, ethnic and/or gender diversity in the school.

Ziemer says the honor allows him and his wife, Marilyn, the enjoyment and reward of interacting with ambitious and gifted students.

“We are both very enthusiastic about this, and so pleased with the quality of the students who have received the scholarships through the years,” Ziemer says. “They are award-winning folks regardless of the scholarship. They are a great credit to Purdue University.”

A recent Ziemer scholarship recipient, Erin Kay, plans to graduate in May 2018.

Carol Lockwood Lay Scholarship — Paying it Forward

I was able to disseminate my own research, learn about the work being done by renowned experts in the field, and make valuable connections that will benefit my career in the future. Jamie Eller (PSY '16), Carol Lockwood Lay Scholarship recipient

Carol Lockwood Lay speaks very matter-of-factly about something that hardly seems matter-of-fact.

“I turned over my IRA to Purdue years ago, and we’ve contributed to it since,” she says. “College costs have skyrocketed compared to the ’50s when I went. I was very fortunate that my parents had the wherewithal to send me to any school I wanted to attend.”

Lay, whose generosity established the Carol Lockwood Lay Scholarship in 2007, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in home economics in 1958. She says her father told her that the entire cost of sending her to Purdue from out of state totaled just under $10,000.

“I just thought that this is something we can do — Paul and I,” she says of the scholarship she and her husband agreed to support. “We've also set aside a good amount for our church and for the law school Paul attended.”

The stories of two recipients of the Carol Lockwood Lay Scholarship, Jamie Eller and Marissa Wuethrich, speak volumes about the scholarship’s benefits.

For Eller, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychological sciences in May 2016, the scholarship meant attending the biennial conference of the International Association of Relationship Research in Toronto, Canada.

The scholarship allowed me to continue my education without having to stress about finances. Marissa Wuethrich (NUR '17), Carol Lockwood Lay Scholarship recipient

Eller’s future holds the pursuit of a doctoral degree. Her goal is to become a professor of social psychology at a top research institution.

Marissa Wuethrich will graduate in May 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. After her sophomore year at Purdue, she got married and interrupted her studies for a calling.

“We took a year off of school to do mission work in Haiti and Puerto Rico,” Wuethrich says. “When we returned, we moved to a small town close to my husband’s job, and I began commuting 90 minutes to Purdue each day. That meant a majority of my budget being spent on fuel.”

Following some work experience in the area of adult health, Wuethrich plans to attend graduate school to become a nurse practitioner.

Jane Welsh Andrews Scholarship — Paving the Way

Referred to in 2012 by The New York Times as the “grande dame of supermarket dietitians,” Jane Welsh Andrews has blazed a trail in her profession. She now is helping students who are eager to take a similar journey with the Jane Welsh Andrews Scholarship.

Saying that college is expensive is an understatement. My parents graciously decided to help me pay for college so that I didn't have to juggle finances alongside academics. I could not be more grateful. Putting my scholarship toward tuition is my way of paying them back. Megan Erikson (NUTR '19), Jane Welsh Andrews Scholarship recipient

The scholarship, established in 2013, is for high-ability incoming freshmen pursuing studies in nutrition science. Andrews says she’s delighted to be able to help deserving students.

“I’m so impressed overall with the caliber of people going into this profession,” she says. “But the cost of getting an education is wild, and the debt students take on is wild, too. I’m so glad to help.”

Andrews’ late father didn’t finish his Purdue degree after World War II diverted him, so the scholarship honors him as well.

“I followed in his footsteps and attended Purdue, which taught me to be a leader and to use food and nutrition science to better people’s lives,” she says.

Scholarship recipient Megan Erikson is grateful that the Andrews scholarship helped her thank her parents for their dedication and support.

And bettering lives is exactly what Erikson says she intends to do with her 2019 bachelor’s degree in dietetics: “I hope to work in a pediatric hospital helping children to establish healthy eating habits in order to have a happy and long life.”