BSU Nursing Student Surprised with Veteran Scholarship from Sanford Health
Bemidji State University junior nursing student Luke Wilkowski, who is a veteran Specialist in the U.S. Army, was just recently awarded Sanford Health’s Military and Veteran Scholarship.
This award is given to any guard, reserve, or active-duty military service member who has demonstrated leadership and commitment in their community. Director of veteran and military affairs at Sanford Health, Captain Paul Weckman, called Wilkowski an unbelievable applicant.
Wilkowski has been deployed overseas twice, both to Croatia in 2016 where he started overseas training, and to East Africa in 2020 and 2021. On October 28th, Weckman made a surprise visit during class to present Wilkowski an oversized check for a $5,000 dollar scholarship.
“This is a big life-changer for me and all my big stressors are helped by this award,” Wilkowski said. “It’s going to push me forward in my career and life-goal to become a nurse. It’s going to support me in a way that I could never imagine.”
Before Wilkowski’s recent deployment, he was busy studying engineering and physics at BSU. Once he returned home back in April of 2021, he decided to change his career path by pursuing nursing so that he could continue to help people.
Wilkowski shared, “When I was deployed over in Croatia, I did a lot of medical tasks. It didn’t dawn on me until I was out in the field doing this kind of training that I really enjoyed working on the medical side of things. It clicked and solidified my reasoning that a career with caring and helping is what I wanted to do.”
Wilkowski also adds that the support from both Sanford Health and Bemidji State University has helped his transition from the military back to campus.
Since Wilkowski was frequently working alongside other armed forces, that didn’t always speak English during his deployments – it helped him develop the communication and interpersonal skills to best support those around him.
“It’s a massive confidence boost when you build up your communications skills,” says, Wilkowski, “There have been times where I would be overseas and we couldn’t communicate that well, but you need to be able to say, ‘I can handle this and I can communicate with them.’ The military prepared me to be aware of everything around me and how it may be perceived.”
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