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Get to know the PHF Scholars Class of 2021

January 21, 2022 | By Michael H. Babcock

Graduating high school in the middle of a global pandemic certainly has its challenges. For the Portage Health Foundation (PHF) Scholars Class of 2021, they made it through the adversity and moved to the next step of their life with heads high and a scholarship to help make the expenses less.

“It was tough to figure out where to go, but I had a lot of supportive people at Ontonagon High School to help me navigate it all,” said Gabriella Menigoz, who chose to go to University of Michigan. “I have met the most amazing people who have taught me so much in only just the first semester. The experiences you can get here are like no other.”

The whole thing was made a little easier for Menigoz as she received a $1,000 scholarship to begin her studies at University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. In total PHF awarded $49,000 in scholarships in 2021, including $7,500 for non-traditional students. It was the first year for the non-traditional student scholarship and three students received the $2,500 award including Sarah Kuiper.

“I already have my biology degree, and now I’m heading to get my nursing degree,” said Kuiper, who is attending Finlandia University while balancing being a mother of three. “I know it will be worth it overall. After the birth of my kids, I had such a great experience. I realized there’s a standard of care I could give back to the community. I knew I could do well at it and give back and expand upon the awesome experience I had.”

Nicole Lukkari FishingIn addition to the general education and non-traditional scholarship, the Foundation offered a health career scholarship, a career technical scholarship in partnership with Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance (KEDA), three scholarships designated by Joseph B. Kirkish and new scholarships designated by the McIntyre family out of Greenland Township for graduates of Ontonagon High School. One of those winners was Nicole Lukkari (pictured here), who is midway through her first year at Gogebic Community College studying biology.

“I have a lot of relatives that work in the outdoors, and it seems fun and interesting to me,” said Lukkari, who loves to enjoy the outdoor opportunities of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. “At Ontonagon High School we had trails right outside and we often used those as part of our classes. It helped open your mind to what’s out there and what’s left to explore. My time at Gogebic is going great! The scholarship really made a difference.”

Below is a list of all of the scholarship winners from 2021. Check back to Portage Health Foundation’s website later this month as we open applications for the PHF Scholars class of 2022.

PHF Scholars Class of 2021

PHF General Scholarship ($1,000)

  • Jaylyne Lindeman
  • Elissa Djerf
  • Aili O’Connor
  • Hannah Peace
  • Kyle Maki
  • Marielle Raasio
  • Noah Sauvola
  • Siona Beaudoin
  • Alayna Waara
  • Katie Fredrikson
  • Gabriella Menigoz

PHF Health Career Scholarship ($1,000)

  • Jaylyne Lindeman
  • Andrea Kariniemi
  • Lydia Salmi
  • Connor Leclaire
  • Gavin Simonson
  • Elisa Isaacson
  • Allison Harma
  • Selina Koskiniemi
  • Christopher Genschow
  • Theadora Menigoz
  • Melanie Gronlund
  • Sofia DeYcaza

PHF / KEDA Career Technical Scholarship ($1,000)

  • Hannah Peace
  • Ari Rautiola
  • Kaci Destrampe
  • Claire Rajala
  • Isabelle Martinez

PHF Non-Traditional Scholarship ($2,500)

  • Heliena Hammond
  • Sarah Kuiper
  • Brittany Walters

Joseph B. Kirkish, Ph.D., Educational Scholarship ($2,500)

  • Marielle Raasio
  • Katherine Griffin

Joseph B. Kirkish, Ph.D., Congregational Educational Scholarship ($2,500)

  • Gabrielle Bosley
  • Paige Deforge

Joseph B. Kirkish, Ph.D., Phi Kappa Tau Educational Scholarship ($2,500)

  • Tyler Brown
  • Jake Abbott

McIntire Family Scholarship ($2,000)

  • Nicole Lukkari 
  • Katie Fredrikson
Michael H. Babcock

Michael H. Babcock