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Blue Cross of Idaho will fund $800K in College of Idaho scholarships

Devin Gaskins, a senior from Mountain View High School in Meridian, speaks at a news conference to thank Blue Cross of Idaho for funding scholarships. Photo courtesy of College of Idaho

Idaho’s largest health plan will partner with the College of Idaho to fund two full-tuition scholarships for exemplary students pursuing any major.

On March 15, Blue Cross said it will underwrite two of the college’s five Heritage Scholarships over 12 years, a commitment of $804,000.

“Blue Cross of Idaho is pleased to partner with the College of Idaho to make a long-term investment in the young men and women of Idaho,” said Charlene Maher, president and CEO of Blue Cross of Idaho in a statement. “It’s important we keep our future leaders — our entrepreneurs, CEOs, inventors and doctors — here in Idaho. We are looking forward to the scholarship recipients accomplishing great things across our state and around the globe.”

At a news conference, college officials and students spoke about how the money eliminates some of the financial stress associated with funding a college degree.

“The College and Blue Cross have had a great relationship for the past 73 years, and it says so much about Blue Cross as an organization that they would make this kind of commitment to higher education in Idaho,” said Co-President Doug Brigham in a statement. “When Co-President Jim Everett and I met with Charlene and explained how we are trying to fund our scholarships like the Heritage scholarship, Charlene immediately jumped in and said Blue Cross wanted to help — it was absolutely amazing.”

Nearly every College of Idaho student receives some sort of financial aid.

Among those is Devin Gaskins, a senior from Mountain View High School in Meridian, who has pursued coursework in health care over his four years in Caldwell and recently was accepted to medical school at the University of Washington.

Gaskins spoke at the news conference, thanking Blue Cross of Idaho for supporting student learning.

“The scholarship being signed today is going to wipe away worries for so many of our future students,” Gaskins said. “It’s going to grant them the freedom and confidence to pursue whatever field of study they want, and know that they’re going to the best school for it. Blue Cross of Idaho’s generosity is going to open the door to the next generation of future artists, politicians, engineers, teachers and, like myself, doctors.”

The first Blue Cross Heritage Scholarship was awarded to Bishop Kelly High School graduate Timmer Verhaegh, who plans to study in the health care field and wants to attend medical school after his four years at C of I.

“My family and I are immensely grateful for this opportunity from the College of Idaho and Blue Cross,” Verhaegh said in a statement. “I am honored to be the first recipient of this scholarship, and I look forward to the years to come.”

According to the College of Idaho, its graduates are particularly successful in health care — 85 percent of its medical school applicants are accepted, the highest rate in Idaho and one of the highest in the entire western U.S.

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