Karen & O.J. Fawcett Nursing Scholarship

The Karen and O.J. Fawcett Nursing Scholarship was established to encourage and support students who have been accepted into the Nursing Program at WSU, and in their second, third, or fourth term in either the Generic or RN BS completion option.


1. Each recipient must be enrolled full-time and in good standing at Winona State University (minimum of 12 credits per semester, Fall and Spring).
2. Each recipient must be qualified and accepted into the Nursing Program at WSU and in their second, third or fourth term in either the Generic or RN – BS completion option.
3. Preference will be given to a student on the Winona campus.
4. Each recipient must have a minimum g.p.a. of 3.5.
5. Financial need is important, but should not be based solely on FAFSA.


Karen grew up in the Chequamagon, Superior and Ottawa National Forests where her dad was a U.S. Forest Service Ranger. She graduated from the Northwestern Hospital School of Nursing with a diploma in nursing in 1960 and worked as a registered nurse at Community Memorial Hospital and the Winona Clinic before enrolling in WSU’s School of Nursing in 1979.

Karen graduated from WSU in 1983 with a degree in nursing and was initiated into the Kappa Mu Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau, International Honor Society of Nursing, as a charter member in 1988. She finished her career years as coordinator of an Early Childhood Family Education parenting support program in Winona. Karen is no stranger to community engagement. She has served on numerous volunteer boards throughout the community during the past fifty years and has been recognized for her leadership with a number of community service awards.

At WSU, Karen served on the 2006 Inauguration Committee, co-chaired the Light the Way Capital Campaign Scholarship Committee, and the All-WSU Nursing Alumni Reunion Committee in 2011. In 2010, she received a WSU Alumni Society Distinguished Service Award. She is currently serving on the WSU Foundation Board of Trustees Special Projects Committee. Karen and husband O.J. are members of the Winona State University Cornerstone Society and Medallion Society. Karen is a passionate supporter of the Great River Shakespeare Festival, serving on the Board of Directors for nine years and as a founding member of the Friends of Will. She’s been a member of the Minnesota Public Radio Regional Development and Advisory Council since 2007.

Winona is O.J.’s hometown. He attended Hamline University and the University of Minnesota where he graduated with degrees in Business Administration and Mortuary Science. He followed in his father’s footsteps as a funeral director and owner of the Fawcett Funeral Home, retiring in 1998. He’s a member of the Minnesota Funeral Directors Association and has served on its board of directors and as president. He’s certified as a Qualified Mortuary Disaster Coordinator and is a member of the Federal DMORT (Disaster Mortuary Operations Response Team.) O.J. is a member of the Winona Rotary Club as a Paul Harris Fellow and the Great River Shakespeare Festival Friends of Will.

Karen and O.J. are members of the Minnesota Public Radio Leadership Circle and have established the O.J. and Karen Fawcett Endowed Scholarship Fund to provide annual scholarships to students of the University of Minnesota Program of Mortuary Science.

Their family includes David and Renee and children Maren and Owen of Minneapolis and Mark and children Cole, Drew, and Raina of St. Paul.

Inspired by WSU Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences William McBreen, Department of Nursing Chairperson Jo Stejskal, and retired Deans of Nursing Ann Sawyer and Rosemary Langston, we felt a calling to leave our own legacy for nursing education.

College of Nursing, Nursing Department