vision for a lifetime

NPEF Reformats Health-Care Education Scholarship

The Northern Plains Eye Foundation (NPEF) Health-Care Education Scholarship Program was launched to promote education and research into the eye health arena through collaborations with area educational institutions. At its inception, in 2005, scholarships were awarded to high school seniors entering full-time, post-high school training in health-related fields, with preference given to those focusing on eye-related health training, and in ensuing years, continuing scholars who were past recipients of the award.

"We've contributed dozens of scholarship awards over the past eight years," said NPEF Executive Director Ronda Gusinsky, "significantly expanding educational opportunities for students in our region in health-related courses of study." This fall NPEF performed an evaluation of its education, research and community service programming. "In looking to the future of our Foundation, we recognize that our programs must continue to be sustainable in this ever-changing world, to meet the need, not only as defined by our mission, but also as defined by the region we serve," Gusinsky stated. While on both a national and local level, there is and has been for quite some time, a need for general health-care professionals, it is well recognized there is great demand from within the eye care industry as well, for future ophthalmologists and optometrists. According to Gusinsky, across our region, there is a generation of eye care professionals nearing retirement, which is beginning to create a void in our rural communities.

Following its evaluation process, NPEF decided to change the format of its scholarship program to more directly impact this scenario. Through a recently signed agreement with The University of South Dakota Foundation, NPEF has pledged to give $7,500 in scholarship awards to fourth year students with an expressed interest in ophthalmology or optometry, who have been accepted into, and in good academic standing in the Sanford School of Medicine. The scholarship award, named the Northern Plains Eye Foundation Dr. Paul L. Zimmerman Memorial Scholarship, will be given by the University of South Dakota Foundation for award by the Sanford School of Medicine. The recipient will be a student from South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming or Montana, NPEF’s service area.

The Dr. Paul L. Zimmerman Memorial Scholarship was created in 2011 by NPEF to honor Dr. Paul L. Zimmerman, a respected partner in Ophthalmology at Black Hills Regional Eye Institute and much-loved member of NPEF’s Board of Directors, who passed away in January 2011 after a courageous battle with malignant melanoma of the eye. "Dr. Zimmerman was a wonderful gift to his profession with a genuine love of people," said Gusinsky. "It is our hope the Northern Plains Eye Foundation Dr. Paul L. Zimmerman Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to a scholar with a passion for the eye care field who most embodies Dr. Zimmerman’s legacy of leadership, service and kindness."

For further information, contact Ronda Gusinsky, NPEF Executive Director, at (605) 716-6733 or e-mail

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