The first recipient of the Markayla Hope James Memorial Nursing Scholarship was recognized at a recent gathering. Mercy co-workers Marc and Karyl James, along with the scholarship fund committee, selected Faith Bliss as winner of the $750 scholarship.
Marc and Karyl’s daughter, Markayla, more commonly known as Kayla, died suddenly in February 2021 at the age of 20. She was in her junior year at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, where she was studying to become a nurse. Karyl serves as chief nursing officer of Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City and vice president and chief nursing officer of Mercy in Oklahoma, and Marc is a new Mercy co-worker in the laboratory.
Kayla was an old soul with a knack for caring for people. The day she died, she was in the process of delivering a care package to a friend with COVID-19 who was in quarantine when she collapsed. A friend found Kayla and called for an ambulance, but she later died of a heart condition. Her family quickly set up a scholarship fund in her name. Fifty-four people donated in honor of Kayla to fund the inaugural scholarship.
“To make something positive out of the trauma we’ve experienced means a lot to me,” said Marc. “Kayla was a caring and giving soul; that’s just who she was. We love that we can honor her memory through this scholarship.”
The Markayla Hope James Memorial Nursing Scholarship Program was established to support a full-time or regular part-time Mercy co-worker pursuing an advanced degree in nursing. One scholarship will be awarded annually to an Oklahoma co-worker.
Faith Bliss is a co-worker in the neonatal intensive care unit at Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City pursuing an associate degree in nursing at Oklahoma State University – Oklahoma City. She was selected based on the strength of her letters of recommendation.
“There were Mercy-sacred moments all throughout those letters,” Karyl said. “They described in such detail who Faith is, how she cares for patients, and they gave wonderful examples of what Faith means to the patients she cares for. We just knew it had to be her.”
Bliss was grateful to be selected and welcomed the financial gift.
“This has taken a huge load off of me,” Bliss said. “In addition to going to classes, I’ve also been working two jobs trying to pay for school. But thanks to this scholarship, I’ve been able to cut back on my extra job and focus more on school. I am very honored to be the recipient of this special gift and hope to honor Markayla’s memory as I further my Mercy nursing career.”
The James family hopes to provide more scholarships for Mercy co-workers continuing their education. If you’re interested in supporting the Markayla Hope James Memorial Nursing Scholarship, click here to donate directly to the fund through Mercy Health Foundation.