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Feature

Carol Kelsey and Mary Lou Christensen

Carol Kelsey (left) and Mary Lou Christensen, both members of the School of Nursing's Class of 1960, rallied their former classmates to help future students.

A class act

School of Nursing alumni finds strength in numbers

By Trish Grafstrom

From M, winter 2008

Mary Lou Christensen, B.S.N. '60, had an idea to help increase scholarships in the School of Nursing and take advantage of the President's Scholarship Match program, which doubles the impact for students. She ran the concept past her classmate, former college roommate, and friend, Carol Kelsey, B.S.N. '60. Together, they developed the idea of creating a Class of 1960 endowed scholarship to the School of Nursing, and a plan was born.

"We decided to solicit help from our regular 'lunch bunch' group of nursing alumni," says Christensen. "None of us could afford to endow a scholarship on our own, but together with fellow classmates we could do it. The eight of us signed the first solicitation letter that mailed in January 2005. It went to 91 graduates and asked each person to consider a gift, and if possible to pledge $1,000 to be paid within three years."

Four months later, the group had raised $13,000 of the $25,000 needed. The alums mailed another letter the following spring and by October 2006, they were $6,200 from their goal. Then Kelsey's husband, Donald, offered to match remaining gifts, and the goal was reached by April 2007, just in time to make the big announcement at the all-class nursing alumni celebration.

"We were so thrilled to be able to create this scholarship," says Kelsey. "We are the first class from the School of Nursing that has done this. It's amazing what can be accomplished when classmates pool their resources to make a difference."