SSU Development Foundation announces creation of Sharon E. Coburn Memorial Scholarship

Staff report

PORTSMOUTH — Shawnee State University Development Foundation has announced the establishment of the Sharon E. Coburn Memorial Scholarship thanks to the generosity of Mark Coburn (Columbia, MD), and his sons Jeffrey (Ellicott City, MD), Bradley (Alexandria, VA), and Matthew (Mequon, WI), as a memorial to his late wife and their mother, Sharon Eileen Coburn, RN, FNE, (née Roe). The scholarship provides an endowed $1,000 and three-year renewable nursing scholarship to SSU.

As a 1959 graduate of Minford High School, Sharon would be delighted to know that the scholarship established in her name will assist a Minford High School senior pursuing a career in the nursing profession. The first scholarship will be awarded in 2022-2023 academic year.

A 1962 graduate of the Mercy Hospital School of Nursing in Portsmouth, Ohio, Sharon also earned her bachelor’s degree from St. Joseph’s College in Standish, ME and her master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD.

She began her career at Ohio State University Hospital & Doctors Hospital, both in Columbus. After moving to Columbia, MD, in 1971, Sharon worked at St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore, and then served as one of the pioneers who worked to establish Howard County General Hospital (HCGH) in Columbia, MD. Over the next 15 years, Sharon held several positions at HCGH, advancing to Assistant Director of Nursing.

The next 10 years saw family relocations to Virginia and Indiana, where Sharon continued to sharpen her skills with increasingly responsible positions at Arlington Hospital and as Director of Nursing at the 240-bed Crystal City Nursing and Rehab Center, both in Arlington, VA, followed by staff positions at St. Vincent’s and Arbor Hospitals in Carmel and Indianapolis, IN.

Sharon returned to HCGH in 1997, where she managed the Emergency Department through a period of rapid growth and expansion, followed by managing the Employee Health Program. She developed a Quality Assurance Program and served as the first President of the Maryland Chapter of the Professional Standards Review Organization.

As the Hospital and Howard County’s population expanded, the need for a program to address sexual violence also grew. Known for her strength, courage, and engagement with difficult work, Sharon was charged with creating and leading the SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner) program, in conjunction with the STTAR Center (Sexual Trauma Treatment Advocacy and Recovery Center), using funding obtained through Victims of Crime Assistance and the Maryland Dept. of Human Resources. After becoming a SAFE-trained nurse, Sharon developed the program’s policies and procedures, and partnered with the STTAR Center to recruit and train other nurses. She became the program’s face and voice, collaborating with County agencies including the Child Advocacy Center, the Howard County Police Dept., and the State Attorney’s Office. In 2006 Sharon was nominated as one of Maryland’s Health Care Heroes for her devotion, perseverance, and commitment to excellence in her leadership of the SAFE program.

Sharon’s life of service to her patients, her profession, and her family is truly an example of a life well lived. Sharon is loved and remembered by those who knew and worked with her in the profession, hospital, and program to which she was so deeply devoted.

To learn more about scholarship opportunities at Shawnee State University, visit To explore programs offered in the university’s Department of Nursing, visit

Staff report