2021 Winners of Brown-Brukardt Perfusion Scholarship



Three perfusion school students and two clinical technicians will receive a one-time, $20,000 award.

SpecialtyCare first announced the Brown-Brukardt Perfusion Education Scholarship along with our support of Thomas Jefferson University’s Center for Perfusion and Extracorporeal Technology Education in 2015. A major initiative from SpecialtyCare is to generate future perfusionists to help the current shortage issue. The scholarship honors Jim Brown, a long-time perfusionist, and Gary Brukardt, who founded SpecialtyCare and served as CEO and chairman. They exemplified integrity, leadership, and dedication to patient care, and this scholarship is designed to support students who share these same qualities and demonstrate outstanding potential as cardiovascular perfusionists.

Today, SpecialtyCare announced the winners of the 2021 Brown-Brukardt Perfusion Scholarship. This capped, one-time award of $20,000, will help relieve the financial burden of perfusion school tuition for a group of future cardiovascular perfusionists.

SpecialtyCare awarded five scholarships altogether. Three of the awards were designated for students currently enrolled in a CAAHEP-accredited perfusion program. SpecialtyCare expanded its scholarship program this year to provide two clinical technicians serving in perfusion assistant roles the opportunity to advance their career by enrolling in perfusion school. Each winner is offered post-graduation employment with SpecialtyCare.


Meet The Track One Winners

Erica Conner will be graduating this month from the Medical University of South Carolina with a Master of Science for Cardiovascular Perfusion. She has served as the Class of 2021 President and Project Leader of AmSECT Student Council. Erica received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Akron and has gained experience at The Cleveland Clinic, CaroMont Regional Medical Center, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and ProMedica Toledo Hospital. She will be joining the SpecialtyCare team in Savannah, Georgia.

Hunter Hart is currently a student at Thomas Jefferson University and will graduate in May of 2022 with a certificate in Perfusion and Extracorporeal Technology. She received her Bachelor of Science in Public Health from East Carolina University where she also served as an undergraduate research assistant. She has shown initiative and leadership in her roles as the Parliamentarian for Gamma Sigma Sigma National Service Sorority, an Admissions Consultant for East Carolina Honors College, and a volunteer for American Red Cross and the Humane Society of Eastern North Carolina.

Michelle Jaskula will be graduating this month from Rush University with a Master of Science for Cardiovascular Perfusion. She received her Bachelor of Science in Biology at Roosevelt University where she served as the President of the Cardiovascular Perfusion Student Government Association and the Secretary of the College of Health Sciences SGA. Michelle has clinical experience from Lurie Children’s Hospital, Loyola University, and Advocate Christ Medical Center with both adult and pediatric cardiopulmonary bypass. She will be joining the SpecialtyCare team in Tampa, Florida. 

Meet The Track Two Winners

Hillary Dressler is currently an Open Heart Surgery Registered Nurse at Deaconess Hospital Systems in Evansville, Indiana. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Evansville. Hillary loves the way perfusionists humbly provide services to help patients and team members in their times of need. She is excited to use this scholarship as an opportunity to make her dream come to fruition in a career she knows she will love.

Joshua Singh currently works as a Clinical Autotransfusion Technician for SpecialtyCare in Detroit. He received his Master of Business Administration from Wayne State University and his Bachelor of Science from Michigan State University. In addition to his experience with our team, he has served as a volunteer at Sparrow Hospital and Crittenton Hospital. With this scholarship, Joshua will be able to swiftly make the transition from assisting the perfusionist to taking the lead on the heart-lung machine as the perfusionist. He has been accepted to enroll in the SUNY Perfusion School in Syracuse this August and is looking forward to rejoining our organization upon completion of the program.

About the Scholarship Process

A committee selected the finalists based on a stringent application process that included a personal essay, recommendation letters, and a personal interview. SpecialtyCare began the application process for the 2021 Brown-Brukardt Scholarship in December 2020.

“On behalf of the executive leadership and the perfusion service line of SpecialtyCare, we welcome each of these winners as they complete their schooling and prepare to join the associate ‘family’ of perfusionists within our organization,” said Andy Stasko, CCP, MS, RRT, Clinical Specialist for the Mountain Perfusion Team and West Region and Chairperson of the scholarship committee. He added, “Each finalist demonstrated the values, drive, determination, and passion to advance our profession and we are thrilled to acknowledge and congratulate these deserving individuals. Welcome to SpecialtyCare!”

Former recipient, Cassie Lopez, describes the scholarship as “…one of my most proud achievements! It offered tuition for my perfusion training, a guaranteed job with a company with more than half the nation’s perfusion accounts, and opportunities to grow in many directions, whether management or research opportunities.” She said the scholarship gave her peace to focus on completing her training without financial stress. She also enjoyed the idea of having a number of hospitals to consider employment that provided a variety of locations and caseloads that met her needs. 

About SpecialtyCare

More than 1,500 hospitals and 13,500 physicians trust SpecialtyCare to help them achieve exceptional care outcomes, regulatory compliance, and financial results in cardiovascular perfusion, ECMO, intraoperative neuromonitoring, minimally invasive surgical support, surgical first assistance, autologous transfusion services, and sterile processing. With nearly 1,500 clinicians supporting over 400,000 procedures annually, we maintain the SpecialtyCare Operative Procedural Registry (SCOPE™), the largest procedural database of its kind, which we use to identify standards, determine benchmarks, disseminate best practices, and foster innovations that improve patient outcomes, increase efficiencies, and minimize costs. We are accredited and certified by The Joint Commission. By developing expertise beyond industry requirements, our customers can be certain they have the best partner for clinical excellence.