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By Micah Friez and Molly Houts

Published 10:25 a.m. on Dec. 15, 2023

Bella Vannavong spent her childhood summers visiting her grandparents. The annual tradition was a family staple, but as the years went on, she watched her grandparents age.

Everyday tasks – like opening bottles, standing up, tying shoes and retaining memories – started to become more challenging for them, and Vannavong was inspired to enter the healthcare field so that she could create a better life for people like her grandparents.

Vannavong, a sophomore from the Twin Cities, is also the recipient of the Sam & Peggy Johnson Scholarship in Biology. Because of her donors’ support, she’s able to pursue an education at Bemidji State University. Vannavong is majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry, and she hopes to pursue graduate school and become a physician assistant after she earns her bachelor’s degree from BSU.

“I was always really drawn to the medical field,” she said. “I've always helped take care of my grandparents growing up. I’ve worked in an assisted living place. Being around that environment really made me feel passionate for these people that sometimes just want some company.”

Learn more about Vannavong’s story by watching the video above.

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