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Anonymous Donor Gives $10 Million for Idaho State University Student Scholarships

December 1, 2022

A group of students examine a patient

The Idaho State University Physician Assistant Studies (PA) program recently received an anonymous $10 million donation supporting scholarships for its students. This scholarship is one of the largest scholarship gifts ever received by Idaho State.  

The scholarship was created in memory of Ginny Thomas, the former administrator of the Rural American Scholarship Foundation that supported higher education opportunities for the less fortunate in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. 

This scholarship was created in her spirit of being tireless in her love and service to others, genuine and pure of heart. The Ginny Thomas PA Scholarship will support all students in the PA program, and will create thousands of opportunities for students over the next 20 years. 

PA Program Associate Director and Professor Paula Phelps said one of the donor's goals is to help increase the number of physician assistants working in rural areas.

“He hopes that if students have less student loan debt, that they will be able to afford to practice as a PA in a small rural town and not be forced to take a higher paying job in a big city,” Phelps said. “We are so happy to be working with the donor to help place more primary care providers in rural areas”

“I am truly grateful for the benefactor’s tremendous gift to the PA students,” she said. “The donor and I have talked several times over the years and I am always taken with his selfless spirit and a desire to not only help students, but to make a difference in the lives of the rural residents of the Pacific Northwest." 

Instead of recognition, the anonymous donor creating this scholarship simply requests one thing from the students who receive this support, “My only wish is that sometime in the future you help someone else.” The donor has been a longtime supporter of higher education and feels strongly about the fact that education is something that nobody can ever take from you.

“This incredible gift epitomizes what it means to be genuine and pure of heart, like Ginny was. We are incredibly humbled and appreciative of the generosity of this donor,” says Rex Force, PharmD, vice president for health sciences and senior vice provost. “Our students who will benefit from this selfless act of philanthropy and receive these scholarships will treasure the support. As they become health care professionals, it is our goal that they are moved to continue the spirit of giving.” 

The PA Program at ISU is the only one in Idaho, and they accept 72 students into the program each year, with cohorts of students in Pocatello, Meridian, and Caldwell through a special partnership with the College of Idaho. There are over 1,100 PAs across Idaho who practice in a variety of medical and surgical specialties. The program places a distinct emphasis on training health care professionals who are prepared to provide care to those living in rural areas, or who are among minority populations. 

This donor’s gift will make a significant impact on the scholarship campaign currently happening at Idaho State University. Learn more about how you can support Idaho State students at isu.edu/scholarshipcampaign.


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