Students in field

Ryan Bessolo, 1989-2022: Memorial scholarship created in honor of alum

February 21, 2023

Article originally shared in the Bridge Magazine 2022, Volume 75.

Ryan Bessolo

Created by his parents, Laurel and Michael Bessolo, and sister, Amy Kemppainen, Finlandia University alumnus and former nursing clinical instructor Ryan Bessolo (’11) will be remembered for years to come through the formation of an endowed scholarship in his name.

Bessolo, a Calumet High School graduate, chose to continue his education at Finlandia University and attained his Bachelor of Science in Nursing in May 2011. He was known for his driven nature, working as a CNA at Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital to continue gaining critical nursing skills.

“Ryan was a natural when it came to Nursing,” said Gladys Polzien, RN, MSN. “As one of his former instructors, I know he was smart, hardworking, and compassionate when he cared for his patients. He was always friendly and willing to help others such as his classmates or clinical staff.”

After graduation, Bessolo continued working for Aspirus and worked with Finlandia’s nursing students during their clinical rotations. His interactions with students encouraged him to reach out to Finlandia to seek a teaching role, which he began in 2012. He completed his Master of Science in Nursing from Western Governor’s University in 2018 and was promoted from instructor to assistant professor.

At the time of his promotion, Bessolo said, “I feel that there are so many aspects to the nursing profession that having an advanced degree will allow me to provide a greater understanding of the art of being a nurse to my students.”

At the time of his passing, age 32, Ryan was the supervisor of the Emergency Department at Aspirus Keweenaw.

“Ryan was a life-long member of our team. His compassion and selflessness embodied our values and what it meant to be a health care worker. Ryan was an inspiring leader and supported ongoing education of student nurses,” said Darcy Donnelly, director of nursing at Aspirus Keweenaw.

Like many who experience loss, Bessolo’s parents and sister looked for a way to honor him. The Ryan Bessolo, MSN, RN, CMSRN Memorial Endowed Scholarship was created. In the creation of the scholarship, it was noted that all of Bessolo’s credentials should be listed, as Bessolo was incredibly proud of each one.

When asked what Bessolo’s family wanted scholarship applicants to know about him, his sister, Amy, said he was compassionate. His father, Michael, said he was dedicated and hardworking. His mother, Laurel, said he was respectful and humorous; he loved to entertain. Financing the scholarship was possible through generous gifts from Bessolo’s family, friends, and colleagues. Additionally, Aspirus Keweenaw provided $2,500 for the creation of the fund.


Finlandia University’s annual donor magazine, the Bridge, is now available online. In a new and exciting format, viewers can interact with this year’s issue like never before.

Across 32 pages of clickable stories, links and highlights, this year’s magazine celebrates Finlandia’s friends and family, including those who contributed to and supported Finlandia University throughout the year.


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