When Ebony Thomas first enrolled in college, she intended to leave with a nursing degree.
“I wanted to go for nursing, but the program was full, so they suggested surgical tech as an alternative,” the Michigan City woman said. “I thought it was so interesting and I was enjoying it, then they came and said a spot opened up and I could come to nursing. I was already two weeks in and learned so much, so I said, ‘I’ll go back to nursing later.’”
Thomas, now a 41-year-old married mother of two, is making good on that promise. After 15 years of working as a surgical technician in South Bend, she is in her final year of nursing school at Purdue Northwest Westville.
To assist in her efforts, Thomas was recently awarded the Franciscan Health Michigan City 2023 Maria Petti Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship fund was established in 2009as a living memorial to the late Maria Petti, who served at Franciscan Health Michigan City for 35 years as a nurse and peri-operative director. Petti died of cancer in 2008 at the age of 53.
The annual scholarship aims to encourage educational excellence in LaPorte and Porter county undergraduate students and offer financial assistance of up to $5,000 to those seeking surgical careers. Scholarship winners are given preferential consideration for Franciscan Health jobs upon graduation.
“I’m getting my second degree and still trying to pay off the first one,” Thomas said. “Our oldest son is in college, too. The scholarship is a blessing. It helped me not have to stress so much about getting my tuition payment in.”
Sarah Jones, Franciscan Health Michigan City vice president and chief nursing officer, praised Thomas for her efforts.
“Franciscan Health Michigan City is pleased to carry on Maria Petti’s legacy with the scholarship named in her memory,” Jones said.“We congratulate Ebony on her scholarship award and wish her all the best in her future nursing career.”
The scholarships are funded by donations to the Franciscan Health Foundation. Donations can be made online by selecting “Maria Petti Memorial Nursing Scholarship Fund” in the dropdown menu or by calling (219) 661-3401.