Some students studying to be pharmacists at the University of Alaska Anchorage will benefit from a scholarship from a local pharmacy.

The class of 2022 was awarded $14,000 Thursday by the Klouda Memorial Scholarship formed in honor of Bernie Klouda, who founded Bernie's Pharmacy in 1980. His widow, Theresa Hall-Klouda, says he died in 2015 and she wanted a way to continue his legacy.

"He's always been a mentor to pharmacy students all around the country and that's before we had any college of pharmacy here in Anchorage," Hall-Klouda said. "Now we have a college of pharmacy here and to continue his legacy I decided it was important to start a foundation in his name and a memorial scholarship fund."

Hall-Klouda says this is the second year of the scholarship which funds the program, operated by UAA and Idaho State University. She says it has given $1,000 to each class member from its inception.

The program's assistant dean, Tom Wadsworth, says the funds are going to the first-year students. He says because of the rigors of the program students are not able to work as many hours, so the scholarship helps them acclimate and focus on their studies.

There are between 20 and 30 open pharmacist positions in Alaska, according to Wadsworth. He says most of those jobs are in rural areas which can be a challenge to staff. Wadsworth hopes students graduating from the program can help change that by collaborating with rural health systems and practicing in Alaska.

Wadsworth says Bernie's is one of the last community pharmacies in Anchorage. He hopes that with the support of its scholarship, some of the students in the program will be inspired to open up their own pharmacies in Alaska.

The scholarship is also supported by First National Bank Alaska, which has contributed a total of $20,000 the last two years.

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