Friday, May 3, 2024
Mardella Carlson and Julie Zerwic stand and smile for the camera.
Mardella Carlson (left) with Dean Julie Zerwic at the College of Nursing

“I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession,” is a quote from the Florence Nightingale Pledge and a statement Mardella Carlson strives to uphold.

Mardella Carlson knew at age five that she wanted to be a nurse, and in 1951, she graduated from Mercy Hospital School of Nursing in Sioux City, Iowa and later moved to Cherokee, Iowa with her husband Clarence. She worked at the hospital in Cherokee and quickly became a leader in the operating room, caring for patients who could not advocate for themselves. As her family moved throughout the state, Carlson continued to learn and develop in her role in the operating room at hospitals in Waterloo, Belmond, and Humboldt, Iowa. She also practiced as a school nurse and shared her nursing knowledge throughout the community. Her daughter, Debra Nelson (83BSN, 89MA), followed in her footsteps by pursuing a career in nursing and later continued her education at the University of Iowa College of Nursing.

“I am honored to support the education of registered nurses as they pursue their BSN degree. It is so important for nurses to see the ‘big picture’ in our complex healthcare environment today. The University of Iowa College of Nursing provides an excellent trajectory for this academic journey,” said Carlson.

Carlson continues to elevate the standard of her profession. She developed the Mardella Carlson Nursing Scholarship designed to provide one or more scholarships to RN-BSN students enr

olled in the University of Iowa College of Nursing. Although Carlson did not complete her bachelor’s degree in nursing, she believes that knowledge is power and as the pledge states, her legacy lives on in the next generation of nurses.


Read more from our spring 2024 alumni newsletter.