After the tragic death of former Ukiah Valley Medical Center nurse, Karen Atkinson, her grieving family and friends established the Mendocino College Foundation Karen Atkinson Nursing Scholarships in her memory. Two scholarships of $1,250 each are awarded to outstanding nursing students at Mendocino College each year.
Karen Atkinson is remembered as a devoted nurse and mother by her friend Joan Nelson who explained, that while the Atkinson family had moved out-of-state at the time of Karen's death, they wanted to provide scholarships in her memory at Mendocino College because of their fond memories of living and working in the Ukiah area. According to Nelson, dedicating the scholarships to future nurses helped the family heal from their loss.
Doug Atkinson, Karen's husband, shared that he and Karen grew up in the same town in Wisconsin. She always wanted to be a nurse, and she started out as a volunteer “Candy Striper” during high school. She was the first person in her family to go to college. Karen began her nursing career in Monroe, Wisconsin, until she and Doug moved to San Jose, California, in 1976. Karen worked as a floor nurse there for two years until the family moved to Ukiah, where they lived, raised their children, and made many friends over the next 10 years. According to Doug, Karen created the position of recovery room nurse at Ukiah Valley Medical Center (UVMC) by convincing the administration that it was needed. She loved working one-on-one with patients in the recovery room at UVMC, and also, later, as a home dialysis nurse in Naperville, Illinois.
Doug characterized Karen as a loving, caring mother and wife. She volunteered at Yokayo School, where her boys were students, and she was particularly fond of teachers Susie Johnson and Barbara Mayfield. Karen also taught Sunday School, and she was very involved with her family in Wisconsin, even though she lived in California.
Doug has remarried and now lives with his wife in Fremont, Indiana. He and his two sons come to California to present the Mendocino College Foundation Karen Atkinson scholarships whenever possible and when they cannot attend their good friend Joan Nelson does the presentation for the family. Doug emphasized that family and friends from the Ukiah area and elsewhere lovingly funded the scholarships in Karen’s memory. The nursing faculty selects the scholarship winners. The recipients of the Mendocino College Foundation Karen Atkinson Nursing Scholarships for 2014-2015 were Mileka Baker and Nina Pisciotta.
For more information about the Mendocino College Foundation Scholarship program or to donate towards any of our programs, call them at 707-467-1018.
# # #