Leading Legacy

Tekla V. Strom Ylvisaker Scholarship celebrates nursing as a community service

Black and white photo of Oakland University graduate Salwan Georges


icon of a calendarMay 23, 2018

icon of a pencilBy Emell Derra Adolphus

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From the start of her education, Tekla V. Strom Ylvisaker saw nursing as a community service. She graduated with top honors from the Henry Ford Hospital School of Nursing and Hygiene in 1949 and worked in clinical pediatrics, followed by more than two years as a surgical nurse. While raising four children with her husband John Ylvisaker, M.D., Tekla got involved with educational initiatives and scholarship programs for young minds, including the Cranbrook Art Academy, the Elizabeth S. Moran Nursing Scholarship of Henry Ford Hospital and Oakland University’s Meadow Brook Hall.

About nursing, Tekla once said: “Nursing is a profession which gave me more than I could ever give back.” In celebration of this sentiment, the Tekla V. Strom Ylvisaker Scholarship — established by her husband John — is awarded to nursing students who embody Tekla’s commitment to community service.

Available to sophomore nursing students, scholarship recipients are eligible to receive upwards of $10,500 over three years provided that they remain in good academic standing and meet all award criteria. This year, Tekla’s daughter, Susan, gave an additional $40,000 to ensure the scholarship will continue unlocking opportunities for nursing students in her mother’s memory.

“Education can help open the door to a myriad of opportunities; can open the mind to new ideas, beliefs, and concepts, and is instrumental in helping people understand each other and the world in which they live,” says Susan Ylvisaker and her husband, Edwin Gordon. “The nursing education that Tekla received, courtesy of the generosity of Clara and Henry Ford, changed her life. We hope that our financial contribution to my mother’s scholarship fund will allow lives to continue to be changed.”

In addition to financial aid, the scholarship establishes a system of support among its recipients.

“Many of these recipients become close friends, stand up in each other’s weddings, welcome the birth of one another’s children and help to grow careers,” says Kristen Cometto, director of philanthropy in the School of Nursing. “The impact of the scholarship carries much further past the recipients’ terms as students. It’s a lifechanging opportunity with lasting effects.”

Born in 1928, Tekla grew up in the tiny Upper Peninsula town of Corinne, Michigan. Her parents were Swedish immigrants, and she was the second youngest of 12 children. She died of multiple myeloma one week after her 60th birthday.

In her later days, facing the inevitable outcome of her illness, Tekla made a simple evaluation of her life to a friend as: “My cup runneth over.” The scholarship gives recipients the opportunity to live the meaning of those words to the fullest in her honor.

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