Community Engagement

Paying it Forward

SON Alumni Fund Scholarship In Memory of Classmate Julie Emery

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icon of a calendarDecember 3, 2020

icon of a pencilBy Adam DePollo

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A new one-time scholarship was created this year by alumni of the SON’s Nurse Anesthesia master’s degree program. The scholarship was funded entirely by donations from the Class of 2008 after they learned that their friend and classmate, Julie Emery, passed away in January after a battle with brain cancer.

Born in 1965, Julie spent her entire working life as a nurse practitioner and returned to complete her post-graduate degree in nurse anesthesia at Oakland University. She is survived by her husband Jeff and children, Nicolas and Megan.
Sarah Sekerak, a CRNA at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak who helped spearhead the scholarship drive, fondly remembered Julie as an unforgettable member of her graduating class.

“Julie was a super nice person,” Sekerak said. “The profession that we’re in has a lot of strong personalities, but she always stood out as someone everyone enjoyed and wanted to be around.”

After hearing about Julie’s passing, Sekerak and the Class of ‘08 thought about different ways to honor her memory while letting her family know how special she was to her classmates. They ultimately decided on raising money for a scholarship for the Nurse Anesthesia Doctoral Degree program, hoping to help students like Julie, who completed her master’s degree while supporting a family at home.

"The program is full-time and pretty intense,” Sekerak explained. “Many people in the program have families and children and rely on others to support them financially. So we thought someone in the program would really appreciate it.”

After spreading the word to the entire Class of ’08 and to a number of Julie’s colleagues, Sekerak and her classmates raised $1,100 to fund the scholarship, which was made available on a one-time basis to a student in good academic standing enrolled in the Oakland University - Beaumont Nurse Anesthesia program. A number of students applied for the scholarship, which was ultimately awarded to Peter Galea.

“I haven’t met Peter personally yet,” Sekerak said, “but I understand he is a very motivated, exceptional student in the Nurse Anesthesia program. I’m glad to know we will be able to help him complete his studies while honoring Julie’s memory.”

Galea was humbled and motivated when he learned he was the award recipient. “I was beyond words when I found out that I received the scholarship,” said Galea. “I was concerned with finances for graduate school and this scholarship will help to ease the burden significantly. It also gives me hope to know that I have the support of others. I will use my education to serve the city of Detroit as a CRNA-DNP. I am so grateful!”

For more information on scholarships, contact Jackie McIntosh, director of philanthropy, at (248) 364-8725 or

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