When my parents, Tom and Sandra Boyle, heard the news that their little girl had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, they were simply devastated. In March of 1975 my younger sister Erin was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a fast-spreading malignant type of brain tumor that at that time was considered incurable. This happened just one month prior to her 4th birthday. Erin was a precocious and tender-hearted little girl who charmed everyone that knew her. It hardly seemed possible that this could be happening to her. However, this didn’t stop Erin, my parents, or the dedicated doctors and nurses from doing everything they could to fight for this very special child.
For the next five years, through multiple brain surgeries and radiation treatments, Erin fought with everything she had. During this time, our family witnessed first-hand the incredible impact that healthcare professionals, and specifically nurses, can have on their patients and their patients’ families. The nurses that cared for Erin through the years treated her as if she was their own, giving her not just the clinical care she required, but also the tender care that only comes from a caring, sympathetic heart.
Although the five years following her diagnosis were filled with hopeful highs and disappointing lows, (as is so often the case with cancer patients), she eventually succumbed to the disease on Easter Sunday in 1980. Our family always considered the date of her passing to be a sign of God’s tender mercy. Somehow, just knowing that Erin was resurrected on the same day that we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus, brought an assuring comfort to us.
Nearly 30 years later as I was working in the Office for Advancement here at the University of Mobile, I was helping a family establish an endowed scholarship fund in the memory of a loved one as I had done so many times before. It suddenly dawned on me that this might be something that my parents would be interested in doing in memory of my late sister. Why I hadn’t thought of it before escapes me. Endowed Scholarship Fund contributions are held in perpetuity and remain as a true legacy, honoring those for whom they are named.
I had a conversation that evening with my parents about creating an endowed scholarship fund in
Erin’s memory. They were delighted for the opportunity, seeing it as a way to honor the memory of Erin that would be both meaningful and lasting. They were also thrilled to do something that would help the University of Mobile, which they have supported for years. And finally, it gave them the chance to honor those special healthcare workers that were so important to our family during that difficult time. My mother Sandra, also a career registered nurse, has always exemplified both the art and science of her profession. As such, she has a distinct appreciation for those special students who are aspiring nurses.
My parents created the Erin Eileen Boyle Endowed Scholarship Fund and dedicated its purpose to providing scholarships to nursing students earning their BSN.
“This was a way for us to show our appreciation and gratitude to those dedicated medical caregivers that cared for Erin during all the times she underwent arduous medical procedures. The idea of a scholarship to help those nurses have the opportunity to further their education and earn a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Mobile was our way of honoring the memory of our beloved daughter, Erin. It is our desire that this scholarship continue to grow and that many more nurses have the opportunity to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and hopefully be able to care for other children such as our precious Erin.”
-Tom and Sandra Boyle
If you would like to learn more about creating an endowed scholarship fund to honor a loved one, please contact me at 251.442.2287, or bboyle@ umobile.edu. It is something that is very personal to me, and I would be privileged to assist you.