Pre-nursing student Claire Baustian ’26 arrived at her Monday night class expecting only to learn — but she left with a $5,000 scholarship. Captain Paul Weckman, USN, Retired, head of military and veteran affairs at Sanford Health, made a special visit to campus to surprise Baustain with the Sanford Health Military and Veteran Scholarship, turning an ordinary class into a celebration.
“[Receiving this scholarship] means a lot coming from my family,” Baustian said. “I have three brothers who all served and my dad also served, so it means a lot to be recognized for that time in service while also pursuing a career in nursing.”
Sanford Health, the country’s largest rural health system, is headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and serves members across North and South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa, with additional clinics worldwide. The Military and Veteran Scholarship was created in 2018 by Sanford Health’s Department of Veterans and Military Services to recognize and serve veterans and military personnel.
Four scholarships are awarded nationally to veterans, guard or reserve members, or active-duty military service members who are pursuing a higher education degree and have demonstrated leadership and commitment in their community.
“Claire’s application was one of those who just rose to the top right away,” said Weckman. “She has an impressive record with inspiring community service and letters of recommendation.” Delivering the news to Baustian was a happy coincidence for Weckman, whose late mother, Mary Anderson Weckman ’53 was also a St. Kate’s nursing graduate.
Weckman emphasized the well-rounded nature of Baustian’s application, citing her excellent academics and range of extracurriculars, including her role as a certified nursing assistant at the Minnesota Veterans Home and her position as a C130 Loadmaster with the Minnesota Air National Guard.
“Claire is out there defending our freedoms one weekend a month, two weeks a year, and she has already deployed overseas,” Weckman said. “You always feel good about giving scholarships out when you have people of this quality.”
Baustian’s professor Jessica Miehe, DNP, associate professor of nursing, also congratulated her on the scholarship. “Claire's service to the military and nation is commendable, and she is pursuing her academic path at St. Kate's with the same passion,” Miehe said.