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James Paul Ison Jr. Memorial Scholarship Endowment established

The Morehead State University Foundation has announced the establishment of the James Paul Ison, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Endowment, a fund to benefit Morehead State University students. The scholarship’s first recipient is Erin May.   

May, a senior from Morgan County, is currently a registered nurse with an associate degree in nursing pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at MSU. She plans to complete a Master of Nursing to become a nurse practitioner with a focus on women’s health and to work in medically underserved communities.  

“I have always truly loved the work of caring for my patients as a nurse,” she said. “There is no place I feel more in my element than when caring one-on-one for my patients, and I believe that being a caregiver is my calling in life.”  

The scholarship was created in memory of James Paul Ison Jr. (94). He joined the U.S. Navy in 1987, serving three years as a naval corpsman. After his service, he returned to MSU and studied both nursing and business, graduating in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Ison was a trauma nurse at Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers, Florida. He worked 20 years in trauma and intensive care before his untimely death from an acute gastric problem at the age of 50.  

The Ison family has a long and proud connection with MSU. Ison’s great-grandfather served on the Board of Regents in the 1930s. His parents, James Paul Ison Sr. (65) and Barbara Stamper Ison (63), are proud MSU alumni and his brother, along with his aunts and uncles, either attended or graduated from MSU.  

“Our family truly loves Morehead State University and our history with MSU goes back for generations. After James Paul passed and we were looking at possible ways to pay it forward in his memory, a scholarship at Morehead made the most sense for our family. We are proud that his memory will live on in this way.” said Barbara Ison. 

The recipient of the James Paul Ison Jr. Memorial Scholarship must be a graduate from Morgan County High School and a full-time undergraduate student entering their junior or senior year at MSU. Preference will be given to students pursuing a degree that will lead to a profession in the medical field.  

To apply for scholarships at Morehead State, visit   

For more information on this scholarship, or to establish your own, contact MSU’s Office of Alumni Relations and Development at 606-783-2033, email or visit 

Photo: The Ison Family was recognized at a recent MSU Board of Regents meeting for the establishment of the James Paul Ison Jr. Memorial Scholarship Endowment. Pictured, from left to right: nephew and incoming MSU freshman Brennan Ison (Fall 2020), sister-in-law Jennifer C. Ison, brother John L. Ison and mother Barbara Stamper Ison (63).