Across Louisiana Tech University, researchers focus on finding solutions to many problems, but three of the National Science Foundation’s Grand Challenges take center stage – cyber, energy, and healthcare and wellness.
An endowed scholarship established to honor Oscar and Emeline Wurster, grandparents of 1964 graduate Rosemary “Toni” Wurster Chandler Turner, was instituted to offer students studying for a career in health science greater opportunity in their academic careers.
“We are so grateful that Toni and her husband, Dr. William Turner Jr., decided to share their enthusiasm for Louisiana Tech and the future of our students,” said Brooks Hull, Vice President for University Advancement. “The need for qualified and caring medical professionals is at an all-time high, and the demand will continue to grow. The Wurster Scholarship assists Biology students complete their undergraduate education and prepare for careers as physicians or other health professionals.”
Turner’s $100,000 endowment is designed to help several students complete their education and make an impact in health and wellness, one of the focus areas for Louisiana Tech programs and research aimed at finding solutions for this Grand Challenge in our nation and region.
Spring 2021 recipients of the scholarship are Caroline Areingdale, Megan Gremillion, Michael Hirchak, and Courtney Pania.
Biology major Areingdale, who is also minoring in Chemistry, plans to apply to physician assistant (PA) school this summer.
“I currently work as a medical assistant at a local clinic and love the role our PA plays,” Areingdale said. “This scholarship allows me to pursue my goals in the medical field without worrying about the financial burden that comes along with it.”
Gremillion, a Biology major with a minor in Chemistry who plans to attend medical school, said the scholarship will help her purchase the textbooks she needs for upper-level science courses and to prepare to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).
“These funds will aid in my preparation for the MCAT by allowing me to purchase practice and review materials,” Gremillion said. “To the Turner family, thank you for your generosity and dedication to Louisiana Tech students!”
A Biology major with minors in Spanish and Chemistry, Hirchak plans to graduate from Tech in 2022 and begin medical school in Fall 2022. He’s a Hall Director for Louisiana Tech and also works as an emergency medical technician. Hirchak has also studied abroad in Madrid and works as a student researcher under Dr. Terri Maness.
“The scholarship will help to ease the financial load on me for paying for my education and allow me to focus on my studies and my career goals,” Hirchak said. “I am very appreciative to the Turner family for creating this opportunity for me and other Tech students.”
Pania is a third-year Biology student who plans to attend medical or osteopathy school and focus her future practice on pulmonology.
“Eventually, I want to create a platform that would enable youth of underrepresented groups in STEM to have resources to compete and succeed in the areas they are interested in studying,” Pania said. “As a member of an underrepresented group, I understand how important exposure and resources are, and I want to support those after me just as my mentors have supported me.
“This scholarship is providing me with the same support I want to be able to offer to other minority students pursuing higher education in STEM. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity!”
An alumna of Sigma Kappa sorority, Toni Turner worked as a medical technologist at Charity Hospital in New Orleans and Confederate Memorial Hospital in Shreveport. She also enjoyed a long career with Delta Airlines. She was raised by the Wursters, who valued education highly.
“Oscar Wurster never went to college,” Turner said. “However, he thought that a college education was one of the most significant things that a person could achieve. Emeline Wurster’s father was a longtime president of the Catahoula Parish School Board, and she never missed an opportunity to teach the spoken language.”
The Wurster family now includes 22 former and future Louisiana Tech students.
“The Wurster Scholarships will enable future generations of students to experience this fine university, and they will reinforce my beloved grandparents’ vision of the role of education,” Turner said. “The scholarships will help future students in the School of Biological Sciences realize the vision of [Tech President] Dr. Les Guice to ‘find solutions to the grand challenges of our time.’”
“I know all Bulldogs join me in being thankful for the great education we got at Louisiana Tech,” Turner continued. “We take pride in saying we’re Forever Loyal.”