MICHIGAN CITY, Indiana – Three LaPorte County high school seniors with future healthcare career goals recently received Franciscan Health Michigan City Medical Staff Memorial Scholarships to assist with their post-secondary educations.

LaPorte High School seniors Olivia Lemon and Michael Pham and Michigan City High School senior Angelina Dueñas were selected by the Franciscan Health Michigan City Medical Staff Scholarship Committee as the 2024 scholarship recipients.

Dueñas is a student in the CNA program at the A.K. Smith Career Center in Michigan City and is a volunteer in the intensive care unit (ICU) at Franciscan Health.

“It is a privilege to assist the ICU team with departmental needs and that experience has driven my passion to pursue a career in the medical field,” Dueñas said. “To watch how compassionate care for patients and families can help heal is an inspiration.”

Franciscan Health Michigan City Manager of Critical Care Ashleigh Wilken BSN, RN, said Dueñas helps in the ICU by taking some of the workload off the nurses, assisting with stocking and helping families and providing the extras such as warm blankets and extra water to make patients feel more comfortable.

“Angelina shows up to the ICU with a smile on her face and a wonderful attitude,” Wilken said. “She is always willing to help and is always very motivated to learn and grow. Angelina is an asset to our team.”

Dueñas plans to continue her education with a physician’s assistant degree at Valparaiso University. Her goal is to work with surgeons.

Lemon is enrolled in the American Sign Language Deaf Studies program at LaPorte High School and plans to attend Purdue University in West Lafayette and major in psychology. She plans to earn a doctoral degree and become a psychologist with a focus on working with the deaf community.

“My teacher, Joanna Witulski, has been an inspiration to me for the past three years and has opened my mind and heart to the needs of the deaf community,” Lemon said. “The outlook and perspective of this community is full of hope, possibilities and challenges and I have both a passion and drive to help and support them.”

Pham, the first in his family to graduate high school, has worked hard to make his future achievements possible. He plans to study biology with a minor in neuroscience at Wabash College in Crawfordsville with the goal of becoming a doctor and helping patients be their own advocates.

“I am both driven and inspired to make a difference in the lives of others and truly impact the community,” Pham said. “When I become a doctor, I want to understand each and every patient I encounter more than anything else.”

­­­­­­­­­­­­Retired gastroenterologist David Fumo, MD, has served on the scholarship committee since its inception. Dr. Fumo said it has been extremely rewarding for the medical staff to encourage those pursuing medical careers.

“The goal of the program is to foster and affirm decisions of our youth to choose the path of healthcare, an extremely rewarding career,” Dr. Fumo said. “We are in a time where there is a need for such careers and our program is designed to encourage those who have the gifts and talents of compassion and servitude and who want to serve others at their most vulnerable times.”

The medical staff at Franciscan Health Michigan City voted unanimously in 2021 to establish and fund a scholarship honoring the memories and continuing legacies of physicians who served the community as members of the medical staff. The annual scholarships are funded by physicians on the Franciscan Health Michigan City medical staff in partnership with the Franciscan Health Foundation and may be split among recipients as the committee deems appropriate.

Donations to the scholarship fund may be made online.

Those who donate $500 or more may name a late medical staff physician to be honored with a name plate on the memorial plaque that is in the hospital’s main hallway.