Minnesota Woman’s Clear View Powers Scholarships to Propel Medical Students

Learn more about Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, the power for scholarships and inspiring by watching “Inspiring the Future Leaders of Health Care,” an inside look at Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine.

According to family legend, Joan Arndt was 3 years old when she declared to her parents that she was going to be a “book lady.” She went on to start her own lending library for friends a few years after her family announcement and would ultimately work in elementary school libraries for more than 40 years and work as an adjunct university professor teaching children's literature courses.

A passion threatened, a promise made

With a life lived in service of reading, it is easy to understand Joan's concern when she was diagnosed with a rare eye condition called keratoconus that affects the eye's cornea and causes blurred vision, but Joan simply thought that is how everyone saw the world. She dealt with the vision issues caused by this disease throughout her childhood but went searching for solutions in her 20s as her condition worsened.

Joan met with several doctors, but received no answers until she came to Mayo Clinic in 1970 and met ophthalmologist John Dyer, M.D. "I remember him saying, 'I promise, we will make it possible for you to read,'" Joan says.

Dr. Dyer, who retired from staff after 42 years in 1998 and passed away in 2010, cared for Joan's eyes for many years, including a successful cornea transplant. Today, Joan is as grateful as ever that Dr. Dyer kept his promise. Books provide an escape for Joan, who lives with the pain of fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis.

A legacy of a love for learning

Joan wanted to show her appreciation for the care she received from Dr. Dyer and others at Mayo Clinic, and an endowed scholarship for Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine was a natural fit. It leaves a legacy that reflects her love for learning and gratitude for the opportunities she received to continue to pursue her passion for reading.

At Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, Mayo Clinic experts instill in students a desire to continuously learn and quest for new knowledge. This academic curiosity and tenacity results in clinicians and investigators who provide compassionate care, find answers for patients with incredibly complex conditions, and make discoveries to improve health care.

Joan has a similar sentiment about learning. It's reflected in her affection for reading and her thoughts on kindergarten as a 5-year-old. "I hid behind the trash cans instead of going to classes for three days because I was mad we played so much," she says with a laugh. "I wanted to learn more."

Gratitude inspires gift for aspiring physicians

Thankfully, Joan's absence from the classroom was limited to kindergarten. She went on to earn a library science degree in college. She was able to pursue her degree because of a generous scholarship she earned — an accomplishment she credits in part to a shared love of books with a member of the scholarship interview panel.

Joan has always been grateful for the scholarship that allowed her to share the joy of reading with thousands of young students. "The scholarship I received was so important to me," she says.

Now, she's doing the same for aspiring physicians. Her scholarship helps them pursue their dream so they can give patients like Joan the answers they need.

Make a gift now to join Joan in helping future physicians pursue their dreams.  

Eds Note: The individual featured in images was alone following social distancing guidelines, and in compliance with Mayo Clinic’s COVID-19 safety guidelines while unmasked.

Stories of Hope
Stories of Hope
Stories of Hope