Distinguished Alumni Award

Dr. Martha Keehner Engelke (Marti), RN, PhD, CON BSN, ’71 

Dr. Martha Keehner Engelke (Marti), RN, PhD, CON BSN, ’71 is currently a professor at East Carolina University College of Nursing where for 12 years she served as the Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship. Marti received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Michigan State University in 1971 and her Master in Public Health in public health nursing and health education from the University of Michigan in 1976. In 1991, she graduated from North Carolina State University with a PhD in sociology and a minor in health occupation education.  She is extremely accomplished in both nursing research and practice. 

Although she has lived in North Carolina for over 30 years, Marti is and will always be a Spartan nurse. She is quick to explain that MSU feels like home – that of all the degrees she has received, she still feels most connected to her baccalaureate education.  A BSN degree, says Marti, “is the heart of nursing education; you are learning profession and developing as an adult.” MSU is where Marti grew.  It shaped her values, widened her views, and molded her into the person she is today.  After graduation from the College of Nursing in 1971, Marti was caught up in life: she married, moved to North Carolina and started a family. Like many graduates, she lost touch with Michigan State.  Years later, after inviting an MSU faculty member to participate in a presentation, she began to reconnect to MSU and the College of Nursing.  Over the years since, Marti has become involved as a member of the Alumni Board and recently endowed a scholarship. In her words, “the involvement as a member of the Alumni Board has helped her reconnect with the mission of MSU.”  She has enjoyed seeing how the University has grown and is very proud of the way the College has advanced and the quality of the graduates it produces. 

Due to her career in higher education and awareness of the fragility of student finances, Marti feels that it is imperative for herself and her family to give back. Marti’s parents valued education and saw it as a way to be more mobile; they believed that it was important for Marti and her siblings to be well educated and find a career that was fulfilling. To honor their memory and the sacrifices they made, Marti and her brothers established the William and Angeline Keehner Scholarship with hope that these funds would help to make a student’s life easier. In both her career and philanthropy, Marti exemplifies what it means to, “pay it forward.” In doing so, she continues to represent the very best that the Michigan State University College of Nursing has to offer. Marti, thank you for your friendship and support – you are the definition of a Spartan Nurse!

Alumni Service Award


Joyce Carson Runberg, RN, EMT, CON BSN ’54

Joyce Carson Runberg, RN, EMT, CON BSN ’54 has contributed many firsts in the nursing profession. As a graduate of the first nursing class at MSU, she helped the College gain accreditation by passing State Boards. 

Joyce went on to practice as a Pediatric Nurse and then transitioned into nursing education with the Bay City Practical Nurse School. She taught a pilot program that educated high school juniors and seniors who would merge into the school after graduation and become graduate practical nurses six months later. Continuing with her mark of many firsts, Joyce and her husband John participated in their first emergency medical technician course on Beaver Island. Joyce went on to work as an EMT for 10 years, servicing patients in planes and ambulances from the island to Charlevoix. 

In her mother’s final days, Joyce gained first-hand perspective in the value of hospice care. With her passing, Joyce honored her mother’s memory as well as the positive experience with hospice by opening her own non-profit organization. B.I. Hospice and Helping Hands assisted over 200 patients before merging with Munson Hospice of Traverse City in 2008. Joyce’s contributions and community impact extends beyond Michigan to the Arizona community that she and John call home when they aren’t on Beaver Island. She has been instrumental in building a strong hospice network to support countless families when they need it most. Gandhi’s words, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” easily describe the gift of this ever-Green Spartan Nurse who has made such a difference in so many lives. Congratulations Joyce, you’re an inspiration to all!


Recent Graduate Achievment


Heath Elenbaas, MS, RN, CCRN, CON BSN ’07

Heath Elenbaas, MS, RN, CCRN, CON BSN ’07 is currently the nurse manager for the inpatient rehabilitation unit at Mayo Clinic Rochester, a nationally ranked Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation program. Heath credits his experience at MSU as the springboard that directed him on a path of success and professional achievement and fulfillment. He genuinely enjoys mentoring and promoting nurses, both new and seasoned, to achieve their personal goals and provide the best possible patient care. 

Since graduating from MSU, Heath has attained a Master of Science degree in Nursing Management and Healthcare Administration from the University of Minnesota and will be graduating with a Master of Business Administration from the University of South Dakota in December 2016. Additionally, he has served as an interim nurse manager for the Neuroscience ICU at Saint Mary's Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota. Heath has multiple scholarly accomplishments to his credit. As a Captain in the Minnesota National Guard, he has proven to be promotable and served as the Officer in Charge (OIC) for a humanitarian service mission to Panama in 2013. 
Heath has established success within the profession and demonstrated leadership within both his civilian and military experience as well as a commitment to the profession by striving to add to the body of knowledge and sharing of best practices. Health, thank you for being a leader and congratulations on your award.