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Art is Life: New MCCC Scholarship Established in Memory of Career Nurse, Lifelong Artist

Elizabeth Ward-Rake (Scully) scholarship to benefit young artists in training


WEST WINDSOR, NJ – As a delivery room nurse, Elizabeth Ward-Rake (Scully) dedicated her life to bringing new children into the world. But those who knew her best say she lived for her art.

“She could see beauty in anything,” said her husband, Phil Rake, of Yardley, Pa. “She loved beauty and loved to recreate it. It was so amazing.”

It was that love of beauty that inspired Rake to honor his wife’s memory after her recent passing in July 2023. He set in motion the establishment of the Elizabeth Ward-Rake (Scully) Memorial Scholarship at Mercer County Community College (MCCC), an endowed scholarship to be awarded each year to a continuing student majoring in Fine Arts. Applications are now being accepted, with the first award to be made for the 2024 fall semester.

Rake said that even though his wife attended technical school in Cape May County, earning certification as a licensed practical nurse (LPN), and going on to become a registered nurse (RN), earning her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), and a Masters in Nursing Informatics, art remained her passion. As an alumnus of MCCC, he was personally familiar with the quality of the visual arts programs at Mercer. In agreement with his wife’s sisters, Eileen Roche, Mary Pat Palombo, Marie Zinno, Kathleen Brown, and Theresa Ward, it was felt that an arts scholarship would be a fitting memorial.

“I liked the idea – it was a fitting tribute,” said Palombo. “Liz would have loved to inspire young people who are studying art. It’s a great way to share our resources and honor her.”

Even though her sister spent her entire career in the healthcare industry, Roche said her approach to life, both professionally and artistically, reflected a desire to find beauty in even the simplest things. Helping train a new generation of artists through a scholarship, Roche said, was a unique way of tying together her sister’s commitment to her profession and her love for viewing the ordinary as extraordinary.

“Liz never had the chance for formal art training – she would have loved to have had an opportunity like this,” Roche said. “Liz had very capable hands – her hands were the ones you wanted to assist you; she delivered hundreds of babies. She just loved art, and saw it all around, and she approached art in a scientific way, with layers upon layers of paint.”

Zinno noted that in a sense her sister’s job was just one window on the world, allowing her the perspective and resources to branch out in her artistic endeavors, traveling extensively to seek out new subjects, new techniques, and to meet other artists.

“Liz liked her job, but she loved to paint,” Zinno said.

Rake said his wife’s preferred painting style was still life, with one of those works, a study of eggs, being offered for long-term loan to MCCC. It is yet another way students, from a variety of backgrounds and areas of interest, can appreciate his wife as a person, and as an artist.

“We wanted to do something to remember her,” Rake said. “She enjoyed teaching, and she enjoyed learning. The best way to honor her is to make it possible for others to do the same.”

Contributions to the Elizabeth Ward-Rake (Scully) Memorial Scholarship can be made here. For information about other giving and scholarship opportunities at MCCC, visit

About Mercer County Community College

Established in 1966, Mercer County Community College is a publicly supported comprehensive institution that provides opportunities for higher education through an open-door admission policy. The scenic 292-acre West Windsor Campus was opened in 1972 to serve the needs of Mercer County residents. MCCC’s James Kerney Campus, located in downtown Trenton, serves as an educational and cultural hub for city residents that meets the changing needs of thousands of students and community members seeking educational fulfillment and personal and career growth. President: Deborah E. Preston, Ph.D.;

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Phil Rake and Elizabeth Ward-Rake

Phil Rake (right), of Yardley, Pa., with his wife, the late Elizabeth Ward-Rake (Scully), a career delivery room nurse with a passion for the arts. With his wife’s sisters, Phil Rake has created the Elizabeth Ward-Rake (Scully) Memorial Scholarship at Mercer County Community College to benefit young artists.

Elizabeth Ward-Rake and sisters

Elizabeth Ward-Rake (Scully), second from left, was a career nurse with a passion for the arts. Following her passing, Elizabeth’s husband and sisters have set up an arts scholarship at Mercer County Community College in her memory. The sisters, from left to right: Marie Zinno, Elizabeth Rake, Eileen Roche, Mary Pat Palombo, Theresa Ward and Kathleen Brown.