Paula Zarrella Heck ’70 grew up in Tell City, Ind., in a loving Catholic family. Although her parents were of modest means, they valued education, and all four of their daughters earned college degrees – three of them, including Paula, from Bellarmine or Ursuline.
It was at Bellarmine that Paula, who studied physics, met James V. Heck, who was her organic chemistry teaching assistant. They married in 1972, the year that Jim graduated, and moved to Cambridge, Mass., where Paula worked at the Baker Library at Harvard Business School to help support them while Jim completed his Ph.D. in organic chemistry. In 1976 they moved to New Jersey and welcomed a son, James Joseph. Jim started working, and Paula pursued a master’s degree in library science at Rutgers University.
Paula later went to work for Merck Research Laboratories, where she combined her science and library skills to develop new approaches to mining for information that helped revolutionize the way Merck looked at the competitive landscape – creating Merck’s first competitive intelligence database, for instance. She ultimately worked her way up through the ranks to the position of Vice President of Knowledge Management. She retired from Merck in 2008 after 30 years of service and passed away in November 2009.
In memory of his mother, and to honor her lifelong commitment to education, James J. Heck decided last December to create a scholarship in her name at Bellarmine. The Paula Zarrella Heck Endowed Scholarship Fund will provide scholarships for female freshmen majoring in science, with preference given to first-generation students.
Paula and Jim Heck have been loyal donors to Bellarmine, and their son said his mother always spoke fondly of the time she spent at the university and the wonderful education she received.
“As her son, I know she would have wanted to support young women in having access to a similar experience,” he said, “and that is why I created this endowed scholarship in her name.”