1968 SUNY Canton Graduate Establishes North Country Nursing Scholarship


Maryalice Grotkowski BlakeA graduate of the inaugural class of SUNY Canton nurses has created a scholarship to lessen the financial burdens of north country students who follow in her career field. 

Maryalice Grotkowski Blake, a 1968 alumna, donated $25,000 to the SUNY Canton College Foundation, Inc., to establish an endowment. Beginning next year, it will provide $1,000 annually to a student enrolled in the Associate of Applied Science in Nursing program, with preference given to graduates of Ogdensburg Free Academy (OFA).  

“I wanted to do something to support the young women and men aspiring to join the ranks of today’s registered nurses,” she said. “It recognizes the expertise, courage and compassion that registered nurses have been displaying during the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Both her and her husband, T. James Blake, are OFA graduates. The couple now resides in Milwaukee, Wis. Maryalice wanted to highlight their connection to the area through the scholarship and help future generations avoid the struggles she faced when paying for education. 

“I clearly recall my mother and I both working hard gathering sufficient funds and applying for loans to pay the costs for my tuition, books, housing, and living expenses,” she said. “Then, post-graduation, I remember it took several years for me to pay off my nursing program loans.”

After graduating, Maryalice worked at several hospitals, including Albany Medical Center, St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital, and Hancock Memorial Hospital in Greenfield, Ind. She also traveled extensively with her husband who was a lieutenant colonel in the Army. James was stationed in West Germany, Korea and various U.S. military installations. He was also an associate dean at West Point. 

“Maryalice and Jim’s generosity demonstrates the success of the Nursing program,” said SUNY Canton Vice President for Advancement Tracey L. Thompson. “They’ve begun a perpetual legacy that will help generations of future students. We are deeply grateful to the Blakes for their contribution to SUNY Canton’s mission and for supporting the success of our north country community.” 

The Blake’s donation is the latest in a string of donations bolstering the college’s two- and four-year Nursing programs. Previously, the family of a late SUNY Canton Nursing Professor contributed the funds necessary to name the Dr. Mary Ann Caswell Nursing Simulation-Hospital in Wicks Hall. The high-tech immersive space is modeled after a working emergency room. Maryalice and Jim were able to tour the classrooms last summer during their first visit to SUNY Canton in more than 50 years.


About SUNY Canton

As Northern New York's premier college for career-driven bachelor's degrees, associate degrees and professional certificate programs, SUNY Canton delivers quality hands-on programs in engineering technology, management, and healthcare fields. It is home to the Center for Criminal Justice, Intelligence and Cybersecurity. Faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. As SUNY's leader in online education, SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as 23 online degree programs. The SUNY Canton Kangaroos 15 traditional athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division III level as part of the North Atlantic Conference. SUNY Canton also features varsity esports and cheerleading.