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Donor Spotlight: Mary Sheldahl

Mary Sheldahl is passionate about investing in the future of health care professionals studying at Mercy College of Health Sciences.

Mary was first introduced to Mercy College in the 1990’s after both of her parents passed away. Mary’s parents were treated at MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center where she and her sister, Loretta, were moved by the care and compassion of the nurses taking care of their parents. Mary and her sister learned that most of the nurses had studied at Mercy College and decided to start a scholarship in their parents’ name to help future nursing students.

The Carl and Mary Cacciatore Memorial Endowed Scholarship is awarded to a full-time nursing student who is starting at least a second year and demonstrates financial need.

“My sister and I did not want a nursing student to stop studying at Mercy College because they could not find the money to do so,” said Mary. “We felt like targeting the scholarship in this way would help students continue and graduate.”

Mary hopes that the students who receive this scholarship are able to graduate and become remarkable health care professionals.

“I hope they are able to take the knowledge they learn at Mercy College and become more compassionate, caring and to take care of their patients like the nurses in the 1990’s took care of my parents,” said Mary.

In 2010, Mary was asked to serve on the Scholarship Committee at Mercy College. Since then, she has served on the Mission and Community Committee, as Treasurer of the Mercy College of Health Sciences Board of Directors and will be serving as Chair of the College Board of Directors this year.

“It is my desire to serve and give back,” said Mary. “I really believe in the mission of Mercy College and by serving as Chair, I thought this could be a way that I could really help the college grow.”

Seeing Mercy College expand its programming has been one of Mary’s favorite things about serving on the College Board of Directors. Her hope is to continue to be engaged in the growth of the college as well as strengthen and maintain the programs currently offered to students.

“There are so many options available to students at Mercy College, not just nursing programs,” said Mary. “There is such a need for health care professionals in all areas of health care and I think Mercy College can play a big role in educating those professionals for the future.”

In addition to helping fund a scholarship and serving on the College Board of Directors, Mary also has a planned gift with Mercy College.

“I am committed to Mercy College and what they are doing in terms of training and educating students for health care careers,” said Mary. “With my planned gift, I am able to continue to impact students’ lives even after I’m gone.”

Mercy College students are the future of health care and making sure they have excellent training, knowledge and resources is what Mary is determined to do.

“We like to think we are going to live until we are 90, then just drop dead without needing any care, but the reality is most of us will need care as we age,” said Mary. “I certainly want the health care professional helping me to have the proper training and to be compassionate, caring and loving to all their patients. That is how I know I will have great care and that is why I support Mercy College of Health Sciences.”

You can support the future of health care professionals at Mercy College of Health Sciences. Please contact MercyOne Des Moines Foundation Senior Director of Development, Joan Bindel at or 515-643-8020.

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