Wayne State Students Receive Rutan Scholarships 2013

Left:  Elizabeth Bailey, Dean Lloyd Young, Laura Kaska, Judy Rutan, Emily Oshnock, Rick Rutan, Candice Gergis,

Rutan Memorial Scholarship Awards $10,000

A scholarship fund established by a Grosse Pointe family in memory of their daughter has granted a total of $10,000 to four Wayne State University (WSU) students. The Lara Rutan, MS, PA-C Endowed Scholarship Fund awarded scholarships to Physician Assistant Studies (PAS) students Elizabeth Bailey of Clinton Township, Candice Gergis of West Bloomfield, Laura Kaska of Novi, and Emily Oshnock of St. Clair Shores. All students are in their final year of the two year program.

Since 2009 when the first scholarship was awarded, 19 Physician Assistant students have benefited from the Lara Rutan memorial scholarship. “We are most appreciative to the Rutan family for continuing Lara’s legacy of concern for PA students in their financial needs,” said Stephanie Gilkey, program director.

Judy and Rick Rutan, parents of Lara, presented the scholarships to the students at the annual Donors and Scholars Awards Luncheon, WSU Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, on May 15.

The Lara Rutan memorial scholarship was established in 2007. Ms. Rutan, who was president of her class, had graduated from the PAS program in 2005. She was employed as a PA at a clinic in Roseville and engaged to be married before her life was taken tragically by a drunk driver in September 2005. More information on the memorial scholarship may be found at

If you would like to make a gift to the Lara Rutan Endowed Scholarship in Physician Assistant Studies, please contact Tiffany Cusmano, development director for the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, at (313) 577-0273.

The Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, one of the founding colleges of Wayne State University, is committed to advancing the health and well-being of society through the preparation of highly skilled health care practitioners, and through research to improve health care practices and treatment from urban to global levels. Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering more than 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 29,000 students.


Elizabeth Bailey    

Elizabeth Bailey grew up in rural Illinois and completed her undergraduate work and played varsity soccer at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, IL. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics in 2005.  She then spent a year in Lexington, KY, where she completed a dietetic internship through the University of Kentucky Hospital.  After moving back to Illinois, she began working as a clinical dietitian in a community hospital, covering two inpatient units, working with the research unit, and coordinating and teaching community diabetes classes.  After two and half years, she followed her passion to work in pediatrics, entering a pediatric nutrition fellowship at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis and trained in the pediatric specialty for six months.  This led to her most recent job opportunity at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, where she worked as a dietitian in the neonatal intensive care unit, managing high risk infants on the neonatology and pediatric surgery services, as well as participating in resident education and precepting dietetic interns.  She was able to develop NICU-specific internship curriculum, develop parenteral nutrition protocols, revise parent education materials, and present at Pediatric Surgery Grand Rounds and Michigan Neonatal Dietitians meetings.  Her first opportunity to publish, working with a pharmacy colleague to write an article about management of copper deficiency in cholestatic infants, which was recently published in the February 2013 edition of the Nutrition in Clinical Practice journal.  After a wonderful experience working with PAs at U of M, she decided to transition into a second career as a physician assistant, entering the program at Wayne State University.  In addition to her professional experiences, she has been blessed to be able to give back to the community, through community dietetics classes, being a youth sponsor for Jr. High and High School students at two different churches, volunteering at the homeless shelter in Ann Arbor, participating in two mission trips to Mexico, and beginning to serve the communities around Detroit, through the CommuniD BBQ event, Arts and Scraps warehouse, and Macomb County Rotating Emergency Shelter Team. 

Emily Oshnock

Emily Oshnock began her undergraduate studies in clinical laboratory science at Wayne State University in the fall of 2007, after receiving a WSU Presidential scholarship, and being accepted into the HealthPro Start program. She excelled throughout this program and was able to witness and understand crucial aspects of medicine that proved influential in shaping her future career as a physician assistant. She served as the Vice President of the WSU Clinical Laboratory Science Class of 2011, and graduated cum laude in December 2010 with a 3.76 GPA. Throughout her undergraduate career she volunteered at Children’s Hospital where she ran the “art cart” and spent time with patients on the NICU/PICU and Same Day Surgery units. She also participated in multiple McRest events through a friend’s church, serving dinner the homeless. Her family has volunteered several Christmas’s with Meals on Wheels, providing dinner to the elderly. She trained to become a Certified Nursing Assistant in 2010 and worked in a nursing home for six months upon passing her state examination. From there, she accepted a position on the trauma unit at St. John Hospital and Medical Center where she has continued to work throughout her studies at the WSU PAS program. She has been a member of MAPA since 2009 and AAPA since 2010. Upon beginning PA school, she became a member of the Interview and Orientation committee and has worked hard to excel in PAS studies, earning a 4.0 GPA throughout her first two semesters. In the fall of 2012, she and two fellow classmates spread their knowledge of the physician assistant profession to Novi High School’s Medical Career class. On July 28, 2012 the Class of 2014 hosted a community event known as, “CommuniD.”  She donated items and prepared food for this event whose aim was to collect food and serve lunch to underprivileged members of the Detroit community. She is eager to begin the clinical year of the WSU PAS program in order to apply her acquired knowledge to the “hands on” aspect of medicine.

Laura Kaska

Laura Kaska graduated from Ferris State University in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Medicine Technology.  While there, she received the Dean’s Scholarship, and was on the Dean’s List for the entire four years that she was enrolled at Ferris State.  While she had plans to pursue her goal of becoming a physician assistant at that time, life had other plans for her.  She moved to Baltimore, MD with her husband where she had the opportunity to work at numerous facilities in the area through a travel agency including Johns Hopkins Hospital.  After 3 years in Baltimore, she and her husband decided to move back to Michigan.  She worked primarily in Nuclear Cardiology, and ended her career as a nuclear medicine technologist as the Director of Nuclear Medicine for Premier Cardiovascular Specialists.  She also participated in a research project that described the efficacy of performing nuclear stress testing on a treadmill in conjunction with the use of a pharmaceutical agent.  In 2010, she had presented the abstract with her physician at the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology seminar in Philadelphia, PA.  Most recently, she completed an IRB application for the research project and received final approval to further her research and potentially write a journal article and publish the results.  

While her role as a nuclear medicine technologist was fulfilling, she dreamt of becoming a physician assistant, and with family support, she is pursuing that dream.  In preparation for PA school, she volunteered at the HUDA clinic, a free clinic in Detroit, triaging patients prior to seeing the physician.  This was a very eye opening experience and it made her passion of helping those in need even stronger.  She has excelled academically in the WSU PAS program, and it has taken the majority of her time over the past year. In her limited spare time, she tries to be an active part of her daughter’s Brownie Troup.  She has assisted in such projects as sorting food at food banks, visiting nursing homes, and educating the girls on how to live a healthy life.

Candice Gergis
Candice Gergis graduated with a bachelor of arts in Business Marketing from Michigan State University in 2007, and was awarded the Academic Excellence Award by the university for her academic achievements and service as a tutor for the athletic department. Upon graduation, she started a three-year long career as a Personal Banker with JPMorgan Chase Bank. In 2010, she was recognized with a Certificate of Excellence Award from the company. Although her future with the company was promising, her passion for health care was unfulfilled. It was then that she began to explore health care careers.
In September of 2010, she completed and gained certification from the American Red Cross Nurse Assistant Training Program. In order to obtain a comprehensive understanding of health care and medical professions, she began shadowing medical professionals and volunteering at Henry Ford Hospital and The American Red Cross. Concurrently, she enrolled in prerequisite science courses at Oakland Community College and Wayne State University. Six months later she was hired and trained on the job as a Medical Assistant at an internal medicine clinic. On a daily basis, she worked alongside physician assistants, providing care to underserved patients in the city of Detroit. Her medical experiences and patient interactions were unconditionally rewarding. In the summer of 2010, she applied to the Wayne State University Physician Assistant Studies program and was accepted in the fall. Currently, she is the Chairperson of the Diversity Committee, and also serves as the American Academy of Physician Assistants Class Representative for the Physician Assistant Studies Class of 2014. She believes that the education and experience she has gained throughout the didactic year in the WSU PAS program will provide for a strong foundation as she proceeds into the second year and in her future as a certified physician assistant. Upon graduation, she plans to practice primary care within underprivileged communities and explore community service opportunities available in Detroit, as well as overseas.


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