Redefining the Classroom

Mackinac Straits Health Systems creates oncology scholarship for LSSU Nursing students

Posted: November 15th, 2011

PARTNERSHIP FOR STUDENTS – Lake Superior State University President Tony McLain, center, joins with head oncology doctor Edward Smith, left, and Mackinac Straits Health Systems CEO Rod Nelson to create the Mackinac Straits Oncology Nursing Scholarship. The fund earmarks an annual grant to qualified baccalaureate-bound student nurses who want to specialize in oncology. Dr. Smith, a 1978 graduate of LSSU, cares for patients with cancer and blood disorders through the facilities of the Mackinac Straits Health Systems Campus in St. Ignace, Mich. Looking on is outgoing LSSU Dean of Nursing MaryAnne Shannon and Patrick Shannon, who sits on the hospital's board of directors. Nelson is a 1983 graduate of Lake State. (LSSU/John Shibley)

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SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – A cornerstone partner in placing Lake Superior State University student nurses into hospital settings now helps more of them gain experience in the specialty of oncology. The Mackinac Straits Oncology Nursing Scholarship will provide annual grants to qualified student nurses during their senior academic year.

Impetus for the fund comes from Edward Smith, a physician who cares for patients with cancer and blood disorders through a newly expanded Mackinac Straits Health Systems Campus in St. Ignace, Mich.

"Mackinac Straits is delighted to have LSSU nursing students join us as part of their clinical education," says Dr. Smith. "Many generous people and organizations donate money to our oncology department, often in memory of a family member who has suffered from cancer," he adds. "We have been able to purchase several nice pieces of equipment for our patients because of this. It is just as important to educate young nurses to provide the care, and through our scholarship we hope to promote an interest for oncology nursing."

Another player in the fund's genesis is Mackinac Straits Health Systems CEO Rod Nelson. He and Smith have LSSU connections that go back to receiving baccalaureates, respectively, in 1983 and 1978. Dr. Smith and his wife, Jill, recently created a scholarship fund in their name to help pre-med students afford tuition at Lake State.

LSSU's collaboration with Mackinac Straits has been in place for at least 15 years, with hundreds of students gaining experience in almost every clinical setting the hospital provides. Mackinac Straits has also been generous in donating equipment to LSSU's nursing laboratory, where students hone skills before being placed into field settings.

Mackinac Straits Health Systems Scholarship applicants must be seniors in an LSSU baccalaureate-track nursing program. Students who apply must have a GPA of at least 3.0. Preference will be given to nurses who intend to go onto a specialty in oncology. Juniors will be considered for the award if there are no eligible senior students.

For more information about this or any one of the more than 100 scholarships and awards available at LSSU, call the LSSU Foundation Office at 906-635-2665 or run a search for “LSSU foundation scholarships” on the Web.

Run a web search for "LSSU School of Nursing" to learn more about both registered and licensed practical nursing programs at Lake State.

Lake Superior State University is located in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, along the U.S./Canada international border. With an enrollment of about 3,000 students, LSSU offers an undergraduate experience that features small classes, individual attention and faculty/student research opportunities that are not always readily available at larger schools. LSSU students choose from a blend of liberal and technical studies in more than 40 areas. Find out more at


CONTACTS: John Shibley, e-mail, 906-635-2314; Tom Pink, e-mail, 635-2315; Sharon Dorrity, LSSU Foundation Office, e-mail, 635-2665; Rod Nelson, Mackinac Straits Health Systems, e-mail, 643-8585.