14 Local Students Win Portage Health Foundation Making a Difference Scholarships to Michigan Tech

PHF Making a Difference Scholarships
PHF Making a Difference Scholarships
2017 Portage Health Foundation (PHF) Making a Difference Scholarship finalists meet PHF representatives, faculty, staff and the 2016 award recipients who will serve as their mentors.

Four students who are entering Michigan Technological University this fall to pursue health-related careers have received $8,000 Making a Difference scholarships from the Portage Health Foundation.  Another 10 entering first-year students received $1,000 awards.

The $8,000 scholarships went to:

  • Peter Alger, Houghton, computer engineering.
  • Alexa Destrampe, Lake Linden, exercise science.
  • Hannah Kariniemi, Calumet, biological sciences.
  • Karmyn Polakowski, Houghton, biological sciences.

Receiving $1,000 scholarships were: 

  • Blake Dupuis, Lake Linden, exercise science.
  • Lauren Gabe, L’Anse, biological sciences.
  • Austin Goudge, Houghton, medical laboratory science.
  • Bella Nutini, Hancock, exercise science
  • Celia Peterson, Calumet, biomedical engineering.
  • Anna Pietila, L’Anse, biological sciences.
  • Lindsay Sandell, Houghton, biomedical engineering.
  • Brooke Tienhaara, Calumet, biological sciences.
  • Nicholas Walli, Finlandia University, biological sciences.
  • Sloane Zenner, Houghton, mechanical engineering.

The students are all from Houghton, Keweenaw, Baraga or Ontonagon counties. 

The 14 recipients of the 2017 awards have an average GPA of 3.81.  Their interests reflect a broad spectrum of majors including biological sciences, exercise science, biomedical engineering, computer engineering, medical laboratory science and mechanical engineering.  The scholarship winners flip Michigan Tech’s male to female ratio of 3:1, with 10 female and 4 male recipients. 

Portage Health Foundation-Michigan Tech Partnership

The scholarships are part of a Michigan Tech-Portage Health Foundation partnership established in 2015 to support health-related research and education, jobs and community health. The scholarships were first awarded in 2016.

“The awards reflect the high caliber student talent we have locally, thanks to exceptional schools, outreach programming, and parent support,” says Jodi Lehman, director of foundations at Michigan Tech.  “We know that student talent is key in supporting the success of college peers and inspiring K-12 students to pursue health science and engineering pathways.  The Portage Health Foundation and Michigan Tech share the long-term goal of retaining or recruiting back local workforce talent – whether that be orthodontists, doctors, physical therapists, orthopedic surgeons, biomedical engineers or professionals in the field of medical informatics.  Scholarships ultimately play a critical role in helping to grow our local economy while fostering healthy communities.”

At a dinner for finalists, the scholarship recipients heard from current students also supported by the Portage Health Foundation through the Undergraduate Research Internship Program (URIP).  Both speakers shared their internship experiences and career goals. 

Stephanie Dietrich, first place winner of the 2017 Undergraduate Research Symposium, spoke about her work with Jason Carter, chair of the Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology.  Together they are studying the importance of sleep relative to athletic performance of female and male collegiate athletes.  Their findings suggest that both groups are below recommended levels of sleep for young, healthy athletes. These findings suggest that different sleep strategies and interventions may be necessary to improve sleep duration and/or quality. 

Abbey Senczyszyn, also a PHF URIP recipient who received the Audience Choice Award at the 2016 Undergraduate Research Expo, described her research with Mo Rastgaar in his Human-Interactive Robotics Lab in the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics.

Portage Health Foundation Making a Difference Scholarship applications will open in the fall for incoming high school seniors and transfer students applying to Michigan Tech for fall 2018.  Questions about the scholarship can be directed to Angela Hoffman, assistant director of admissions, aehoffma@mtu.edu; 906-487-1855.



Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.