Nursing scholarship set up to honor Carolyn Hietamaki

MARQUETTE — One local group is forming a new scholarship to help nursing students in the Upper Peninsula in honor of one special member of the community.

The Marquette General Hospital RN Staff Council has started the Carolyn Hietamaki Memorial Nursing Scholarship to help nursing students that are going to school to make the transition from an LPN to an RN, much like Carolyn did many years ago.

Carolyn, who died suddenly in July of 2019, was the president of the nurses union for many years and was a valued leader and mentor, and this scholarship will be a way to help out the next generation of nurses that will follow in her footsteps.

“She was a wonderful nurse, a wonderful patient advocate, she spoke very much for the patients of the hospital,” said Scott Balko, an RN at UP Heath System-Marquette and a friend of Carolyn’s. “She would hold the hospital accountable when it came to patient care, and she was very good with union leadership too. She would hold the nurses accountable to make sure they’re doing their jobs also.”

“We miss Carolyn, she had such a big heart and we miss her everyday, she impacted so many lives,” said retired RN and long-time friend Gayla St. Onge. “When we went to school, it brought 21 LPNs together as a family, and Carolyn was very much a part of that. She took an interest in the union from day 1, and kind of pulled me into it, but I always felt it was the right path because we were so concerned for patient safety and we wanted to be patient advocates. We learned from very good mentors when we were LPNs, and we wanted to continue that mentorship onto newer nurses.”

The scholarship will be set up for Bay College LPN students who are going to the RN program, and anyone can help the fund with donations. If you are interested in contributing to the fund, make checks out to the Carolyn Hietamaki Memorial Nursing Scholarship and mail them to the Bay College Foundation, ATTN: Vicki DeGrand, 2001 N Lincoln Rd, Escanaba MI, 49829. Or if you would like to contribute with a credit card, it can be processed over the phone by calling (906)217-4048.