The Ohio State University at Newark

Supporting the Medical Professionals of Tomorrow

March 22, 2019

As a former scholarship recipient, alumna Debra Blake can attest to their impact. A thank-you note from a student for a previous smaller donation inspired Debra and her husband, Kevin, to do more. Her family, including her parents and husband, came together to create and endow the Solak-Blake Family Scholarship that was awarded for the first time in the fall of 2018.

The Solak-Blake Family Scholarship became a reality through a $25,000 donation that was matched by General Electric, where Kevin was employed. “My husband and I wanted to help students further their education to lead a better life for themselves and to contribute to society,” she said. “We felt that a scholarship was a great way to do that.”

After graduating as the valedictorian from Newark Catholic High School, Blake was awarded a scholarship for academic excellence to attend The Ohio State University. She chose to complete her first two years at Ohio State Newark because it was close to home and class sizes were small.

“The small classes allowed for more individualized attention from professors, which was important since my major, physical therapy, was highly competitive and required a high grade point average for acceptance into the program,” Blake said. She graduated from Ohio State in 1976, and worked as a physical therapist for 40 years.

The scholarship criteria requires a student to be a graduate of Newark Catholic High School majoring in pre-nursing, pre-allied medicine or pre-medicine. “We hope our scholarship will encourage students to pursue a career in the medical field,” said Blake. “Who knows, maybe someone will find a cure for cancer or one of the many other conditions that plague humanity.”

The Solak-Blake Family Scholarship was awarded for the first time in the 2018 autumn semester. Madyson McCafferty, a pre-nursing student, was the recipient. McCafferty was motivated to choose pre-nursing as her major by her own medical experiences as a child.

“When I was about 2 years old, I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Living in and out of the hospital and having many doctor appointments upset me at first, but then I started to like learning about medicine,” McCafferty wrote in her thank-you letter to the Solak-Blake family. “I want to spend the rest of my life at the hospital helping people get better, just like the nurses and doctors helped me.”

She expressed both gratitude and honor for being chosen to receive the scholarship. McCafferty shared that it alleviates some of her expenses giving her even more motivation to continue to pursue a nursing career. For the 2018-2019 academic year, nearly $1 million in scholarships were available to Ohio State Newark students.

Debra and Kevin have also made Ohio State Newark the beneficiary of a very generous estate gift.

Caption: Debra and Kevin Blake visited Newark from their home in Cincinnati, Ohio, to celebrate the creation and endowment of the Solak-Blake Family Scholarship.

The Ohio State University at Newark offers an academic environment that’s inclusive of diversity, challenging but supportive with world-renowned professors and access to Ohio State’s more than 200 majors. It’s where learning comes to life. Research, study abroad and service learning opportunities prepare students for their careers in ways they never expected.