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Mae Sterk 


(given by her children Stanley, Nancy, Helen, Karen, Joel, and Janet Sterk)

Mae with her family

Mae had a deep love for education, and particularly for science.  She aspired to be a doctor in a time where there were few female doctors. Her father refused to send her to college because “girls don’t need an education.” So with funds she earned herself, she went to college. She graduated from Calvin College in 1947 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, one of the few BSNs awarded in the 1940s. After completing RN training at Rush Presbyterian Hospital in Chicago, Mae married Watson Sterk and brought six children into the world before returning to school to obtain certification as a Public Health Nurse to work as a Health Nurse for Dodge County, Wisconsin.

When she was in her 50s, Mae returned to school again to obtain her Master’s of Science in Nursing, with the tenacious determination to perform all her statistics computations by hand. She retired in 1986 from her nursing career in her final position as Administrator of Nursing for the Dodge County Mental Health Facility.

Mae and her husband sent all six of their children through college, understanding that a college education would open up the world to them. Everyone appreciated her passion for education. Her daughter and Jeannette Rankin Foundation’s CEO, Karen Sterk, along with her brothers and sisters, endowed this Scholar Grant for women anywhere in the United States pursuing a Nursing degree. Their goal is to give a woman the help she needs to achieve her dreams.