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Grant Empowers 10 Students to Pursue Internships in Digital Health

Michael Fontaine ’18 works on full stack development at his internship with Invenshure—a startup that has partnered with Bethel to train students for tech careers in the healthcare industry. (Photo credit: Invenshure)

The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation made a $50,000 grant donation to Bethel’s Center for Healthcare Excellence in May to provide scholarships for students. The founder—Richard M. Schulze—is a renowned Minnesota entrepreneur who is also founder and chairman emeritus of Best Buy Co., Inc. The foundation annually awards grants to select organizations operating in the areas of human services, education, and health and medicine, according to its website. Through this financial provision, Schulze and family leave a legacy by investing in the future.

In order to be eligible for one of 10 scholarships made available by the grant, students must accept an internship with a Bethel-approved digital health partner by December 2017. Though scholarships remain available, some students—like Michael Fontaine ’18—have already been awarded their $5,000 portion of the funds. As someone who has been involved with the Digital Health Pathway since its inception and had already accepted an internship with Bethel-approved partner Invenshure when the Center for Healthcare Excellence received the grant, Fontaine was a perfect candidate. The recently married student welcomed the financial provision enthusiastically. “It’s a huge stress relief,” he says.

Prior to attending Bethel, Fontaine trained alongside medics and was HIPAA certified as part of a healthcare unit in the Army National Guard. As a student, he knew he wanted to pursue computer science. The Digital Health Pathway provided him with opportunities to combine his computer science skills and his passion for healthcare. “I’m kind of middleman medicine,” Fontaine says. “Part of our calling as Christians is to help those in need, which is the sick and the poor. By working with the Digital Health Pathway, you gain exposure to the technologies that help the people who help those who are sick.”

The Digital Health Pathway doesn’t just provide opportunities for computer science students like Fontaine. The pathway is structured to give students of any major exposure to the healthcare field—including an understanding of medical terminology and cutting-edge advancements—by working for a health tech startup in a variety of roles. Approved internship partners and opportunities for students are identified through the Center for Healthcare Excellence. “I’m soliciting on both ends,” explains Kristi Moline GS’15, executive director for the Center for Healthcare Excellence. “I’m soliciting the partner to commit to taking on a student intern. And I’m soliciting students who would be well-qualified to complete an internship for our partners.”

The identification of a partner as a “health tech startup” has been used broadly by Moline to refer to companies that fit the specific niche of the Digital Health Pathway. Moline and her team have focused on startups because the Schulze Family Foundation grant enables mutually beneficial opportunities for these companies and Bethel students. “Startups don’t typically hire interns…because they can’t afford to pay them,” Moline says. “So, the scholarship incentivizes a student to intern for the company when they might not otherwise do so without pay.” Startups provide innovative, hands-on learning opportunities for students, which further add to the value of an internship.

For now, the scholarship is only available to students interested in the Digital Health Pathway, but Moline hopes more pathways with monetary incentives will be established through the Center for Healthcare Excellence in the near future. Moline believes that students who participate in a healthcare pathway will be more attractive to healthcare employers when they enter the workforce. “We feel like that’s where we can really add value to the marketplace,” Moline says.

Steve Hoeppner, vice president of the Schulze Family Foundation, says that by financially supporting of the Center for Healthcare Excellence, Richard M. Schulze believes he can help to “strengthen the local and national economies” through the creation of opportunities for entrepreneurs. “Providing scholarships to outstanding Bethel students to enable them to take on internships in a variety of startup and early-stage companies within the healthcare industry is an important way in which the Schulze Family Foundation can [offer] meaningful support,” Hoeppner writes.

While not all are able to contribute financially, companies like Invenshure have shown strong support for the Center for Healthcare Excellence by partnering with Bethel to provide practical learning opportunities for students. For Fontaine, Invenshure’s and Bethel’s work together has been academically as well as financially beneficial. “Overall, my experience with [the Digital Health Pathway] has been really positive, and at Invenshure there’s a lot of good mentorship opportunities,” he says. “I’ve learned a lot that I normally wouldn’t through the classroom, and my learning has been accelerated.” 

For more information on scholarships from the Schulze Family Foundation Grant, or on becoming a Bethel-approved partner, contact Kristi Moline at kl-moline@bethel.edu

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