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Love of Misericordia inspires family scholarship

By all accounts, the late Arlene M. Lawrence Coughlin '64 absolutely loved Misericordia. So much so, her and her husband James' estate planning included one of the largest bequests in Misericordia history, a generous $1.09 million, designated to a scholarship. The Arlene Lawrence Coughlin '64 and James Coughlin Scholarship was established by James in 2019 upon Arlene's untimely death at age 73 in 2015. The fund was endowed following his passing in the fall of 2021.

Arlene was the second oldest of seven children and earned her bachelor's degree in home economics, opening the door to a successful career that included serving as a dietician for State of Maryland Department of Health and as chief dietician for the Howard County (Md.) Department of Health. She also was an assistant professor of nutrition at the Mercy School of Nursing in Baltimore, and at the University of Maryland.

Her younger sister Mary Lawrence Masters '74, shared a bedroom with Arlene throughout their time growing up in Swoyersville, Pennsylvania, and knew her sibling to be smart and driven. "Arlene was always studying and very much into her education," Mary says. "Since we were the only two daughters in our family with five brothers, and she was 10 years older, she had a great influence on me and eventually my decision to attend Misericordia."

As Mary has recently learned, it appears their late aunt, Theresa "Terry" Mikitish Bruno '51, may have been the influencer who introduced Arlene to Misericordia and her career in nutrition. Terry was also a home economics major and a career dietician.

"Arlene loved Misericordia and she loved her education, attending many reunions over the years," Mary adds. "She was someone who forged her own way. After graduation, she moved to Staten Island, and loved Broadway music and going to shows. She also loved to travel."

The protocol for the scholarship mirrors much of Arlene's own experience, and offers priority for first-generation college students from Northeastern Pennsylvania in good academic standing, who attended a Catholic high school, and plan to major in the science or health sciences fields.