Every student has a path they follow

Alyssa's Pathway

From the time she was 14, University of Minnesota senior Alyssa Olson couldn’t put a name to the studies she would passionately pursue, but the clarity of her calling came from within. Literally.    

Alyssa Olson
Alyssa Olson

“I had four wrist surgeries and every time I asked them to let me see the cyst they took out of my wrist they were like ‘oh sorry, we already sent it down to pathology’”, she says. “And I was like ‘oh, that’s where I want to be.’”

Conversations would lead her to learn that the name of a career in clinical pathology was Medical Laboratory Science, and that one of the premier MLS programs in the country was just 42 miles south of her Lindstrom, MN home, at the University of Minnesota.

“I looked into it more and was like yeah, 100 percent, that’s exactly what I had in mind,” she says. “I was really excited because I didn’t want to go out of state. I wanted to stay close to home. “

Everything unfolded so smoothly – her choice of studies, acceptance into the program, fulfillment from the field – until a growing struggle almost overcame her: the burden of staying afloat within the program’s rigorous curriculum while she concurrently worked a job to pay for her schooling.

“I could have taken out more loans but that terrified me,” she said. “I had no idea how I was going to do it. I was so stressed.”

Alyssa learned of a new grant that the U.S. Health Resources Services Administration awarded to the University of Minnesota’s MLS program, called The MLS Pathways Scholarship.  It would, if she could qualify for it, remove some of the stress and financial worries she faced, in needing supplemental income to put toward her tuition, books and college housing.

Alyssa applied.

“When I saw the award letter come through I almost cried. I didn’t expect to get it. I was in disbelief. I just remember staring at the screen. I called my mom and grandma,” she says.  “This means that I no longer need to be stressing about work to support myself, the fear of endless student loan debt, and can instead focus solely on schooling.”

And continuing toward completing a journey she first began, so many years ago.

Here are the specific qualifying guidelines for University of Minnesota MLS students to receive funding from The MLS Pathways Scholarship, and descriptions of the many other scholarships that students in the MLS program can apply to receive.

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