St. Luke scholarships promote health careers
St. Luke Hospital Auxiliary members who gathered June 7 to award new scholarships heard from a past recipient how their generosity contributed to her becoming an optometrist.
“It’s good to support people who are working very hard — we respect you for doing that. It’s a great thing, and hopefully we can repay it somehow by service or support,” Heidi Zogelman Ensley said.
Ensley graduated in May from the University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Optometry, and has accepted a position with TMS Eyecare, which operates clinics in Arkansas City and Wichita.
Ensley, a 2003 Marion High School graduate, received two scholarships from the auxiliary during her undergraduate studies in biology and chemistry at Washburn University, where she graduated in 2007.
A career as a physician or physician assistant was Ensley’s original plan, but that changed in her third year at Washburn.
“It was my third year that I actually got a job at an optometrist in Topeka,” Ensley said. “It was a smaller office, so you did everything. People were so appreciative just being able to see so much clearer,” Ensley said.
As she starts her practice, Ensley is enthusiastic about the aspects of optometry that go beyond determining prescriptions for glasses and contact lenses, such as pediatric eye care, preventive screening and diagnosis, and vision therapy with victims of strokes, heart attacks, and traumatic brain injuries.
“We have to be very aware of all the conditions that affect the eye to refer patients on. There are a lot of things we can catch, exercises and things we can do to help them get back,” Ensley said.
The encouragement she received from receiving scholarships from the auxiliary far exceeded their monetary value, Ensley said.
“It’s the fact that someone that knew you going through elementary school and high school knows how hard you were working to achieve your goals,” Ensley said. “I hope telling people where I’m from and how they supported me is paying them back somehow.”
Annie Whitaker and Megan Overton, 2012 MHS graduates, are the most recent auxiliary scholarship recipients. Whitaker received $1,125 for physical therapist preparatory studies at the University of Kansas, and Overton received the same amount to study nursing at Hesston College.
St. Luke Hospital contributed $750 for the scholarships. Auxiliary president Elora Robinson said the auxilary’s $1,500 portion came from a memorial fund established to honor former Marion physician James A. Wheeler.