Merlene Davis: Local foundation seeks scholarship applicants

About this time of year, organizations and foundations look for qualified candidates to give scholarships to.

Let that sink in for a minute.

These folks are trying to give you or your child real money to ease the ever-increasing burden that a higher education puts on your wallet.

Being a parent who has had to stand over college-bound children while they applied for financial aid, I feel obliged to let others know when I hear of scholarships that might not be on their radar.

The Lexington Clinic Foundation's Fergus Hanson Memorial Scholarship just might be for you. It is awarded to students enrolled in allied health-related training programs such as nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy or maybe a clinical lab technician, said Ginny Van Horne, community liaison for the foundation. Students hoping to become dentists, veterinarians or medical doctors are not eligible.

The foundation awarded 11 scholarships last year, ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 each, divided over two semesters, Van Horne said.

"We are looking for people who will stay in Kentucky," she said. "We are targeting students in Central and Eastern Kentucky because, traditionally, Lexington Clinic serves that area."

There is no age limit, so I encourage displaced workers who are pursuing careers in allied health to join high school seniors in applying. Or maybe the scholarship would be just the life preserver needed to keep a student in school. Applicants can be full or part-time students.

"The deadline — March 9, 2012 — is fast approaching," Van Horne said. The scholarship is sent directly to the student's school to be used for tuition, she added.

Here are the scholarship requirements. Applicants must:

■ Be residents of Central or Eastern Kentucky and plan to work there.

■ Have a high school diploma or equivalent.

■ Show evidence of need and academic promise.

■ Desire a career in a health-related field.

■ Provide evidence of good character and a willingness to help others.

"We like to see that they have volunteered," Van Horne said.

The application, requirements and reference questionnaire can be found at

The scholarship is named for Lexington Clinic's second and longest-serving administrator, who served from 1956 to 1978, Van Horne said. Hanson was honored for his devotion to the advancement of medicine and technology, she said.

Formerly called the Health Scholarship Program, it was established in 1993 and administered by the clinic until the foundation took over the responsibilities in 2003. Scholarships have been awarded to 160 students since then, Van Horne said, adding that 51 students applied last year.

I think the possibility of fulfilling a dream is worth the effort it takes to complete an application.