Members of the Sanford Family seeking to further their career in health care are eligible to apply for the scholarship.

Mimi Diffley Memorial Employee Scholarship

December 16, 2020

Mimi Diffley dedicated her life to caring for patients. During her more than 20 years as a nurse at Sanford Bemidji, she put the comfort of her patients first, even if it meant skipping breaks or working late to catch up on paperwork.

Mimi passed away in 2007 after a six-year battle with breast cancer. Even when she had to retire early and later lost her vision due to complications related to her cancer treatments, she never lost her spirit and positive attitude.

To honor her legacy, her family founded the Mimi Diffley Memorial Employee Scholarship to help educate the next generation of health care workers. Members of the Sanford Family seeking to further their career in health care are eligible to apply for the scholarship.

Hear from our 2020 recipients about what this scholarship means to them:


Emilie Nyegaard, LPN

“Thank you very much for your kind help with my schooling. It’s been tough especially with the virus this school season. To have the financial burden taken off my shoulders has helped me focus more on school work and learning instead of working on paying for school. It is very important to continue with one’s education, and because of your wonderful generosity, myself and many others have and are able to do so. Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your unforgettable contribution to mine and others education.”


Kelsey Saralampi, RN

“Thank you for once again awarding me the Mimi Diffley Scholarship. Your financial assistance over the course of my education has greatly relieved the financial burden of my tuition. I would not have been able to pursue or complete my education without this scholarship! While the global pandemic has brought a lot of uncertainty into this year, I have never been uncertain of my choice to pursue my career as a family nurse practitioner. I hope to find a job at Sanford Bemidji and repay your kindness with my service to our community. Thank you again, and stay healthy!”


Sam Lavin, radiologic technical assistant

“I want to start with a big thank you! Thank you for the generous donation. I appreciate it greatly. I am currently attending Lake Superior College of Duluth, Minn., for radiologic sciences. My biggest concern going into college was my financial situation. With your help, the burden of my student debts is that much smaller. Your support has helped me to focus on my studies and be the best student I can be.”


Serena Madden, RN, BSN

“Thank you for selecting me as a recipient of the Mimi Diffley Memorial Employee Scholarship. This scholarship will help me in furthering my nursing career. I have been with Sanford Bemidji Medical Center for six years now and plan to continue my nursing career in the Bemidji area as a family nurse practitioner. I am honored to be selected as a nurse to carry on the memory and enthusiasm of Mimi.”


Sara Lehman, exercise specialist

“Thank you SO much for the scholarship money in honor of Mimi. I feel blessed that you selected me. From what I know, Mimi was an amazing nurse and person. I hope to inspire people like she did during her career (and thereafter). Thanks again!”