Public Health Scholarships

The Mary Emma "Mae" Fletcher and Jasper William Vincent Memorial Graduate Student Scholarship in Epidemiology

Born in Pony, Montana on November 12, 1870, Mary Emma "Mae" Fletcher was the third child of Montana pioneers William Asbury Fletcher, Sr. and Ellen Louise "Nellie" Gordon, who homesteaded in Summit, Montana in 1866. Jasper William Vincent was born on October 10, 1866 in Searsboro, Iowa, and emigrated with his family to Montana's Madison Valley in the 1880s.

Mae and Jasper married in 1889, the year Montana became the nation's forty­first State. They purchased 164 acres of homestead land near McAllister, Montana in 1904 and began ranching. Although they had nine children, two died in infancy. Mae became a midwife, often bringing babies into the world with her help alone, the lone doctor for the large Madison Valley being available only by horse and buggy. She also took in boarders, did laundry, and cleaned the school house to supplement the family's ranching income. She enjoyed the "Circle" where women from all over the Valley met at different homes to sew, usually on quilts, visit, and eat homemade food.

Mae died at age 47 on November 4, 1918 of the worldwide flu pandemic, in which Montana ranked as one of the four hardest hit States in the country. Montana's death rate was double that of such States as Michigan, Minnesota, and Indiana. The University of Montana in Missoula and Montana State College in Bozeman shut down as did the entire city of Butte, which suffered losses on a par with San Francisco and Philadelphia, two of the hardest hit cities in the nation. After Mae's death, Jasper continued to live on their ranch until dying at age 68 of a stroke on January 12, 1932, while outside gathering wood from his woodpile. His obituary states "he was highly respected by the many who were privileged to know him."

Established by their great granddaughter, Denise Alexander Bittner, in 2019, this scholarship is hoped to spur graduate students to solve the mysteries of pandemics and improve rural health in Montana and beyond.

The Burnham Family Population Health Fellowship

The Burnham Family Population Health Fellowship was started in 2018 with a gift from Mark & Cheryl Burnham of the Madrona Hill Foundation. This Fellowship funds a doctoral candidate in the Public Health program. The Burnham Fellow works on community-wide initiatives to improve health outcomes throughout the state of Montana.