For the Students Who Eat, Sleep, and Breathe Physician Assistant Studies
Last September, family and friends gathered to celebrate the 25-year career of John Hangasky Jr., former associate professor of allied health sciences. Students, alumni, and faculty of the physician assistant studies program joined the festivities. The group was comprised of a wide variety of alumni, including graduates from the original physician assistant class of 1996 that graduated under Hangasky, who was hired as first director of the brand new program at Springfield College.
Prior to the retirement party, John and his wife, Suzanne, announced their establishment of the John and Suzanne Hangasky Scholarship Fund in support of physician assistant students. To their delight, numerous alumni and friends in attendance also contributed to the endowed fund.
John was instrumental in building the foundation of the physician assistant studies program; developing and teaching the courses, setting up cocurricular classes with Baystate Medical Center, and—at one point—advising as many as 105 students.
“That legacy will be remembered with the scholarship, but we also hope that it might inspire other people to give back to the College as well,” said Suzanne.
Over the last 25 years, John has seen the program grow into one of the strongest physician assistant studies programs in the area, but he also has seen the toll it takes on its students.
“Once the students start taking their graduate courses, they are in a classroom 40 hours a week, in addition to the time they spend studying. So they eat, sleep, and drink PA school for 27 months and there’s not a lot of room for work-study or a part-time job,” John noted. To that end, John and Suzanne created the scholarship specifically to help ease the financial burden of physician assistant students. [John’s] legacy will be remembered with the scholarship, but we also hope that it might inspire other people to give back to the College as well,” said Suzanne.
In addition to their scholarship, John and Suzanne have been long-time supporters of Springfield College. Taking advantage of the College tuition remission and tuition exchange benefits, they felt it was important for them to give back. “Two of our children went to colleges in the tuition exchange program; our son to the University of New Haven, and our daughter to Bay Path University. Our other daughter went to the physical therapy program here. So Springfield College has been good to our family,” John said.
John and Suzanne feel confident knowing their gift will benefit generations of physician assistant students for years to come.