Rural Health Opportunities Program Adds 46 Wayne State College Students, New Pre-Occupational Therapy Track Highlighted

WAYNE – Representing 10 different Rural Health Opportunities Program categories, 46 Wayne State College students have been chosen for RHOP for the fall of 2022.

According to a release from Wayne State College, this highly selective program was established in 1989 and successfully launching health-care careers ever since.

RHOP is a unique cooperative program between Wayne State and the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) to meet the health care needs of rural communities, which make up a majority of Nebraska.

Students selected for the program come from rural Nebraska, know the unique needs of their community, and are dedicated and passionate about their home state and its rural health care needs. RHOP represents that commitment and prepares students to return to rural Nebraska and care for its citizens.

Northeast Nebraska students include Bryna Fanta of Creighton (Dentistry); Cadyn Uttecht of Hartington (Dentistry); Madison Mandel of Snyder (Medical Laboratory Science); Saige Miserez of West Point (Medicine); Maycee Zimmerer of Creighton (Medicine); Courtney Brink of Wayne (Nursing); Angela Espinoza of South Sioux City (Nursing); Raina Lade of Battle Creek (Nursing); Anna Tyler of Creighton (Nursing); Olivia Dartman of Creighton (Occupational Therapy); Kayla Fischer of West Point (Pharmacy); Amber Bockelman of Norfolk (Physical Therapy); Ashlynn Garcia of South Sioux City (Physical Therapy); Leah Bloomquist of Wausa (Radiography) and Cassandra Granquist of Laurel (Radiography).

Dr. Ron Loggins, dean of the School of Science, Health, and Criminal Justice at Wayne State said, “I’m excited to welcome this class of RHOP students. “Our RHOP scholars are among the most academically talented and dedicated students in Nebraska. Wayne State is proud to help prepare them for their careers in healthcare. At Wayne State, not only do students engage in a rigorous curriculum, but they also benefit from the close advising and mentoring our faculty and staff provide. We are confident that when students graduate from our science programs, they have a solid foundation and are prepared to succeed.”

RHOP’s benefits include a full-tuition scholarship at Wayne State and guaranteed admission to UNMC. RHOP participants pursue their studies at WSC and UNMC, with the amount of time at each institution determined by the program in which they are enrolled. Students who apply for the program must be a rural Nebraska resident.

RHOP participating fields include Dental Hygiene, Dentistry, Medical Lab Science, Medicine, Nursing, Occupational Therapy (new for Fall 2022), Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, Physician Assistant and Radiography.


Students selected for RHOP for Fall 2022:

Dental Hygiene

Drew Kratochvil of Seward


Bryna Fanta of Creighton

Jacob Melliger of Columbus

Jordan Ondracek of North Bend

Cadyn Uttecht of Hartington

Medical Laboratory Science

Madison Mandel of Snyder

Elizabeth Martinez of Wilber

Brooklyn Schuler of Gretna

Natalie Stallbaum of Ewing


Travis Byrd of North Bend

Sydney Escritt of Hebron

Mariah Hansen of Tilden

Cal Janke of Fremont

Shannon Kennicutt of Elwood

Saige Miserez of West Point

Ansley Noyes of Kearney

Maycee Zimmerer of Creighton


Courtney Brink of Wayne

Jordyn Coe of Crete

Angela Espinoza of South Sioux City

Raina Lade of Battle Creek

Lainey Meyer of Page

Emily Mlnarik of Neligh

Anna Tyler of Creighton

Lauryn Zessin of Wood River

Occupational Therapy

Olivia Dartman of Creighton

Ella Jaixen of Loup City

Shae Junck of Bellwood


Kayla Fischer of West Point

Avery Hermesch of Saint Libory

Megan Lukert of Hebron

Kenzie Mosel of Neligh

Macey Peterworth of Sutton

Vance Sayer of Schuyler

Ryland Stephens of Ashland

Physical Therapy

Amber Bockelman of Norfolk

Ashlynn Garcia of South Sioux City

Physician Assistant

Blaike Bryan of Osceola

Luke Polacek of Wahoo

Emma Wray of Blue Hill


Leah Bloomquist of Wausa

Cassandra Granquist of Laurel


Loggins added, “the University of Nebraska Medical Center recently added the Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OT) to their program offerings and this year we celebrate the addition of pre-occupational therapy to RHOP. “After four years at Wayne State studying Applied Human Sport and Physiology, our graduates enter OT school at UNMC. This rapidly growing profession is a great fit for students that want a career in health care that involves a lot of one-on-one patient interaction. What’s even more exciting is not only are we bringing in new freshmen to this program, but we also are able to offer current Wayne State students seats in this program. By including current students, we are rapidly responding to the need to develop and educate more occupational therapists to meet the needs of Nebraskans.”


Students selected from among current Wayne State students for the College’s new pre-occupational therapy track for RHOP were:

McKenna Leonard of Laurel

Austin Fernau of Carroll

Cheyney Loper of Callaway

Abbey Seevers of York


Loggins mentioned, “in the last few years, Wayne State created a new pathway to nursing with UNMC, a dual-degree nursing pathway with Creighton, an early admission program with Kansas City University for the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine and Doctor of Psychology programs, and many others. While the pandemic was raging, Wayne State stayed true to its mission and continued to serve the students of Nebraska. Together with our partners, we designed new, exciting curriculum and program pathways that will prepare students for current and future workforce challenges.”

Learn more about RHOP at and Wayne State nursing programs at