Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation Scholarships impact lives

Sarah Patton shares her higher education story and commitment to work in rural communities

[Photo: Sarah Patton 2018]

The Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation annually provides an average of over 200 educational awards improving and supporting local residents pursuing post-secondary education. “We have been committed to post-secondary education since our inception almost a quarter of a century ago,” says Sarah Copeland, the Foundation’s Director of Grants and Programs. “Due to the generous donations from funders, we have grown to fund scholarships in the amount of almost $300,000 for 2018. We love to hear stories from our recipients and today we share the journey of Sarah Patton who is completing her last year in pharmacy school at UMD.

Sarah Patton – hard work pays off

[Photo: Sarah Patton and her family at the Grand Itasca Foundation / Community Foundation Medical Scholarships Presentation 2018]

“As I enter my final year of pharmacy school, I often find myself reflecting on my education and wondering at how quickly eight years can come and go. I think back on my time at ICC as a PSEO student - during this period the thought of applying to pharmacy school was daunting. Five years ago, I transferred to the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) to study biochemistry. Although UMD is far from the biggest school in the state, it still took time for me to adjust to a larger setting,” says Patton.

“Almost exactly three years ago from today, I found out I was accepted to the University of Minnesota’s College of Pharmacy on the Duluth campus. It was very exciting to know that hard work had paid off and I was being welcomed into the pharmacy profession. Three short years later, I am finishing up my time in the classroom and will be starting a full year of clinical rotations in various pharmacy sites across Minnesota,” says Patton.

“We have known Sarah Patton since 2013 when she first applied for scholarships at the Community Foundation,” says Copeland. “Starting with the Greater Itasca STEM Scholarships from the Gibbons Family Funds, and the Grand Itasca Volunteer Services Scholarship, she was on her way. Many people are interested in going into something in the medical field, but this was a young woman wanting to be a pharmacist, who actually knows how much schooling that takes.”

[Photo: Sarah Patton: 2017]

Patton continues, “When reflecting on the last eight years it is not the accomplishments I value the most - it is the people who have helped and inspired me along the way. For instance, while at ICC I had a chemistry professor who gave me confidence that I could succeed in pursuing a career in biochemistry. At UMD, I had advisors and pre-pharmacy mentors who gave advice on my pharmacy application. I have met inspiring pharmacists who care about their patients and have taken the time to invest in my career. I have been introduced to individuals who partnered with the Community Foundation to support me in my education and believed I could achieve my goals. Last but certainly not least, my family’s support and encouragement has made me push onward, even when I felt like giving up. I am overwhelmed with the people in my life who have helped to make my goals a reality and I will continue to remember them for years to come.”

The Gibbons Family supported Sarah with Scholarships from 2013 – 2015. Grand Itasca Volunteer Services provided five years of scholarships (2013, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018) – each totaling $1,500. “I don’t mean to digress too much,” states Copeland, “but did you know that the Grand Itasca Volunteers provide $7,500 in scholarships each year from proceeds at the Grand Itasca Clinic and Hospital gift shop and coffee shop? That’s amazing to me – and their cookies. Their cookies are amazing to me as well!”

[Photo: Sarah Patton 2016]

Along with a $1,500 Workforce Ready Scholarship, Patton is receiving the Dr. Jules and Ilo Meyer Medical Scholarship for her last year in Pharmacy School at UMD. “The Dr. Jules and Ilo Meyer Medical Scholarship has such a great story,” remarks Chris Fulton, Executive Director of the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation. “What a fantastic legacy the Meyers have left for rural medical professionals. Sarah Patton is the perfect recipient for this $5,000 scholarship.”

Dr. Jules and Ilo Meyer: Legacy in Action

Ilo Meyer had a place in her heart for the Grand Rapids area and for the medical profession. She wanted to leave a legacy that would make it easier for students entering medical professions in the area to fulfill their dreams and, in turn, give back to society with their skills.

Mrs. Meyer established the Dr. Jules and Ilo Meyer Medical Scholarship at the Community Foundation in 1999 with appreciated stock. By establishing this endowment, Ilo Meyer made her legacy a reality.

Dr. Jules Meyer practiced as a physician in the Grand Rapids area after World War II. He spent most of his life as a physician in the military, but the family maintained a residence in Grand Rapids.

Ilo Meyer was a nurse who helped organize the Rural Nursing Program in Grand Rapids in 1946. The Rural Nursing Program gave nursing students from the University of Minnesota and Rochester Nursing Schools an opportunity to experience nursing in a rural setting.

[Photo: Sarah Patton 2015]

A recommendation on Patton’s application was from Olivia Buncher, Admissions Coordinator at UMD, “Sarah is, quite simply, a ‘rock star’. She is professional, engaged in a variety of valuable activities throughout the College, a mature and insightful member of the Admissions Committee, and a favorite of faculty, staff, and classmates alike. I simply cannot say strongly enough what an outstanding and deserving student she is. Sarah is a superbly promising future pharmacist.”

Another recommendation was from Kerry Fierke, Leadership Faculty and Advisor, College of Pharmacy, UMD. She writes “Sarah has exceptional abilities to conquer her goals. This has been proven with her successful pursuit of a 16 credit leadership emphasis area (LEA). Her goal to pursue this passion and continue in Grand Rapids will benefit the community and inspire others. She continually thrives to help others connect on a level that creates a positive environment. Her leadership, positivity, determination and compassion are what makes her a contributing and valuable asset to teams and organizations.”

What’s next for Sarah? Her current plan is to graduate in May 2019 from pharmacy school and she wants to work as a hospital pharmacist in rural Minnesota. After she settles down, she hopes to volunteer at free care clinics. “To achieve this,” states Patton, “I will look for employment in active rural communities.”

[Photo: Sarah Patton 2014]

“The Gibbons Family, Grand Itasca Volunteers, Dr. Jules and Ilo Meyer, Jerry Anderson, Industrial Lubricant, Grand Itasca Foundation, Northern Minnesota Builders’ Association, UPM Blandin, MDI and NIE. All these people and organizations came together to provide $17,000 over six years. That is a wonderful testament to the strength and commitment of our community,” states Fulton. “Now, who’s hiring?”

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