Grateful for what she learned—and received

By Jill Jansen

It’s been nearly 20 years since their daughter graduated from IU School of Nursing, and Debbie and Kenny Ryan couldn’t be prouder of what Mandy (Ryan) Baker has accomplished. They’re also grateful for what she learned—and what she received in the form of scholarship funding—during her time at IU. A 2003 graduate of the BSN program, Mandy earned the Howard L. Keach Scholarship, which helped offset her college expenses for three years.

In 2015, Kenny and Debbie started making annual donations to the Keach scholarship as a way of helping other deserving students like Mandy.

“The scholarship was a very big help, and we wanted to pay it forward,” said Debbie.

The Keach scholarship was established in 1977 with a preference that it be awarded to students in Lawrence County, where the Ryans live.

“It helped us at the time, so maybe we can help somebody else,” Kenny said.

As a teenager, Mandy volunteered as a candy striper at the local hospital while attending Bedford North Lawrence High School. After graduation, she enrolled at IU School of Nursing, studying at the Bloomington campus for three years before moving to IUPUI to finish her bachelor’s degree. Her first job out of college was as a renal oncology nurse. While it was a challenging position, Mandy often told her parents how well IU School of Nursing had prepared her.

“She didn’t realize until she was out doing it how much she had learned,” Debbie said. “She had a really tough job her first year, but she learned a lot at IU, and she felt confident.”

During the past two decades, Mandy has worked in both inpatient and outpatient settings and in critical and non-critical care environments. Today, she is a substitute school nurse for Monroe County Community School Corporation. The mother of a 12-year-old daughter and 17-year-old son, Mandy is also very active in the local community, volunteering her time with a variety of youth organizations.

Reflecting on their daughter’s successful career inspires the Ryans to give back.

“It makes us feel good that we’re helping out other kids.”