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

Discover SUNY Canton, where innovation meets opportunity. The college’s career-focused educational programs emphasize hands-on and applied learning opportunities in digital design, engineering technology, health, information technology, management, public service, and veterinary technology. Faculty members bring real-world experience and exceptional academic expertise to the classroom. As a leader in online education, SUNY Canton offers unmatched flexibility with hundreds of courses and 23 comprehensive degree programs offered completely online. The SUNY Canton Kangaroos compete at the NCAA Division III level and will be transitioning to the SUNYAC in Fall 2024. In addition to its 15 traditional teams, SUNY Canton offers coed varsity esports and cheerleading.