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FHN Awards Scholarships to Area Students


Three college students from northwest Illinois were awarded FHN healthcare scholarships for 2011. Approximately 40 students enrolled in undergraduate programs for medical technology, pharmacy, nursing, respiratory therapy and rehabilitation services applied for the 2011 awards. A scholarship committee at FHN reviewed the applications, interviewed finalists and today announced the winners of the $1,000 scholarships. FHN has awarded scholarships to area students pursuing careers in healthcare since 2003.

Jordan Olesen, from Lena, is a senior at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. Olesen wasn't sure what major was right for her when she first went to Highland Community College in Freeport. “I bounced around a lot at first,” she admitted. So Olesen researched healthcare careers and degrees online that fit with her interests, then chose a degree in medical laboratory science. After graduating from Highland, she continued her degree at Illinois State.

“I really love it!” said Olesen. “After taking intro to biology, I wasn't so sure. That was so much information to learn. But, I really liked anatomy and microbiology at Highland. So, I choose the degree that seemed to fit me best and it's been a good decision.” Olesen will graduate in May 2012 with a degree in medical laboratory science and plans to apply at hospitals in this region.

Erin Brannick of Freeport is a sophomore at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, majoring in biology. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Loras, she will obtain a graduate degree from a pharmacy school and then pursue a career in pharmacy.

“I've known that I wanted to do something in healthcare since the middle of high school,” said Brannick. “I was really interested in all my science classes, especially intro bio and intro chemistry. I chose pharmacy because I was specifically interested in different medicines, how they work with the body, and up-and-coming research and where that is taking this field.”

Brannick's grandmothers are nurses and her aunts also have careers in healthcare, but she'll be the first in her family to enter the field of pharmacy. She applied for the FHN healthcare scholarship after seeing the call for applications in the newspaper.

Drew Carroll, of Lanark, also developed an interest in healthcare during high school. “My brother, who's six year older, was injured in college sports and had ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) surgery. The whole experience involving his treatment was just really interesting to me. I was always interested in athletic injuries in high school and watching the athletic trainer work with injuries.”

Carroll is majoring in athletic training as an undergraduate at Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa. He then will pursue a 6-year graduate degree in physical therapy, also at Clarke, with an eye toward working in rehabilitation clinics after graduation. His advice for others pursuing a career in healthcare? “It's hard, but you just have to push through. It's worth it!”