St. Joseph Hospital to contribute $5,000 toward scholarship honoring slain nurse

Nurses who helped coordinate scholarship wanted to create 'a legacy'

A memorial for Astraia Pulliam is on display at St. Joseph Hospital, where she worked as a nurse until her death in August 2018. The hospital announced Wednesday it is giving $5,000 to a scholarship established in Pulliam’s name. (St. Joseph Hospital — Contributed)

Friends and co-workers have established the Astraia Pulliam Memorial Scholarship Fund to honor a St. Joseph Hospital nurse who was killed in August 2018.

The hospital announced Wednesday that St. Joseph Health is contributing $5,000 toward the scholarship — the first sizable donation to the scholarship established in the past few months.

“I was just blown away by their generosity,” said James Ladika on Wednesday, one of five nurses who form a committee working on the scholarship. “It’s a great way to use the foundation’s funds.”

There are daily reminders around the hospital campus of how much the nurse was liked and admired, including a memorial area on the third floor.

“Astraia was an amazing nurse who had a great deal of compassion and empathy for her patients, helping foster camaraderie and positive morale at St. Joseph,” said Michelle Watt, a colleague and close friend of the slain nurse who also works with Ladika on the scholarship committee, in a prepared statement. “This scholarship (fund) will help alleviate the financial burden experienced by those entering nursing school and will allow them to focus on fulfilling their dream of becoming a nurse.”

Astraia Muir — her maiden name was Pulliam — grew up in the Santa Cruz mountains and was focused on health and healing for much of her adult life. She was a yoga instructor before moving to Humboldt County. It was here that she attended College of the Redwoods and she graduated with a nursing degree in 2014. While attending, she was raising her older son as a single parent.

“Everybody wanted to do something to memorialize her because she was remembered as such a caring person and a great mom,” said Ladika. “We wanted there to be a meaning to her life and a legacy.”

The scholarship honors that memory by specifically benefiting single mothers enrolled in the CR nursing program.

A call seeking comment from the CR nursing program was not returned by the publishing deadline Wednesday.

The Humboldt Area Foundation was contracted to help set up the scholarship, Ladika said.

“We do this often for people wanting to do a memorial fund and trying to make it easy for them to get it set up and get it into the process,” said Luis Chabolla, director of donor engagement for the Humboldt Area Foundation.

He said the scholarship is expected to be available for applicants next year.

“I think it’s great because it’s really been driven by James (Ladika) and others who knew her who wanted to do something meaningful in her memory,” Chabolla said. “It’s a very grassroots effort of honoring her and honoring her love of nursing and trying to open the door to other young people who may be able to make this an opportunity to help others and grow their careers.”

Ladika said that those who donate to the Astraia Pulliam Memorial Scholarship Fund can receive a button with her photo and a URL to the donation site. He said several St. Joseph employees who worked with her have made donations.

Pins are available to those who donate to the Astraia Pulliam Memorial Scholarship Fund. (James Ladika — Contributed)

“It’s nice to see people around the hospital wearing the buttons,” he said.

He added that one of the goals of the scholarship is to open up opportunities.

“I want to make it easy for a nurse to get (the scholarship),” he said. “I don’t want to make it a bunch of hurdles.”

Details about the scholarship including the amount that will be disbursed are still being worked out according to Chabolla. To donate to the fund and to learn more about it, go to

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