The Michelle DeFranco Nursing Memorial Scholarship
'This scholarship is meant to help accomplish what Michelle couldn't. She didn't have the time to become a doctor and find the cure for cancer. Perhaps this award will help someone else find it,' said Myron DeFranco, Michelle DeFranco's father.
Honoring the medical profession, this award was established in 1985 to help a returning nursing student attain an associate in applied science degree from Jefferson Community College. The scholarship recipient must show academic potential and an ability to relate to others.
'Michelle was always ready and willing to help anyone. She had a heart that was larger than life,' said her parents. It was a place where a needy soul was always comforted and welcomed. Michelle knew how to love life. She often marched to the beat of a different drummer. Yet, in her short life, she knew more about pain than most people knew in a life time,' said her parents.
Michelle A. DeFranco was born on August 1, 1957, in Watertown, New York. She graduated from Watertown High School in 1975 and SUNY Delhi in 1977. She was employed by the Credit Bureau and Sears Roebuck & Co. until she was stricken with cancer in 1980.
Throughout her life, she was involved in several humanitarian endeavors. For 10 years, during her teen years, she was the eyes for a sightless woman in her neighborhood. She read her mail, did her bookkeeping, and all other projects that required vision.
In 1982, despite surgeries, and chemotherapy and radiation treatments, she decided to become a nurse, and eventually, if time would permit, a doctor. Her medical career began at Jefferson Community College. According to Michelle's parents, 'With great help, love and compassion from Marie Hess and all the other professionals in the nursing program at JCC, she graduated shortly before her death in the top of her class in 1984.' During her attendance at JCC, she was vice president of the Student Nurse's Association. She was also a recipient of the Humanitarian Award.
Michelle was Nurse of Hope for the American Cancer Society for Jefferson County and North Central New York. She underwent surgery the day she was to compete for Nurse of Hope for New York State. In the competition, a friend, Pamela Puccia, presented her speech. A line from Michelle's speech tributes the nursing profession by stating, 'We can make a difference.'
Early in her illness, Michelle overcame paralysis. Ten days after her Nursing Pinning Ceremony, she again was stricken. Still, her spirit helped her to keep a positive outlook. Throughout her illness, she maintained her humanitarian work at Roswell Park Memorial Institute.
Michelle Anne DeFranco died September 10, 1984.
Her family honors her memory every day in its active participation in The Compassionate Friends, an international support group for parents who have lost a child.
The Jefferson Community College Foundation is grateful to Myron F. and Mary I. Harnett DeFranco, Michelle's parents, for having established this scholarship.