Thanks to a generous gift from Peter and Jone Hoffman, the Foundation was able to award a scholarship to each and every BRF Alumni Applicant in 2021. It would generally be assumed there would be some applications that would be ineligible due to the scholarship requirements. This was certainly not the case as all student applicants met the requirements for academics, community involvement, financial need and had a proven history of success in their post-secondary educations.

Twenty-five of the thirty applicants are attending four-year Universities. The remaining five students attend Technical Colleges. Their average GPA was 3.46. All were involved in volunteer activities in both their home and college towns. Here are just a few of their amazing accomplishments:

Matthew B. (BRF Class of 2016) graduated from UW Madison in 2020 with distinctive scholastic achievement and a GPA of 3.866 and having been named to the Dean’s list five times. During his time at UW Madison, Matthew majored in both Spanish and Biology. He achieved one of his major life goals by being accepted into UW La Crosse’s graduate Physician Assistant Program. Rated as one of the top PA programs in the country, the competition to be accepted is fierce. The average GPA of those accepted is 3.91. To further his learning and to help in financing his education, Matthew received a CNA certification and worked at Unity-Point Meriter Hospital and at Fairview Ridges Hospital. In addition to scholarships, part-time jobs, his personal savings, and full-time summer jobs, he has received substantial help from his parents. Matthew writes, “I could not have gotten this far in my post-secondary education without them. As I look to pay for six total years of education, scholarships and other forms of financial assistance will be required to continue. I am very appreciative of the scholarships that community members in Black River Falls have been able to reward students with, and I hope to be able to do the same someday.

Lauren P. (BRF Class of 2018) has financed her education thus far with scholarships and by working multiple jobs. While studying full time, Lauren also worked as an EMT for the Jackson County EMS. Lauren was one of many local students to have a front-row seat to the COVID pandemic. She writes “Never, as a twenty-year-old college student, did I think that I would be a frontline worker in a global pandemic. However, it has made such a big impact on my life by increasing and verifying my desire to work in the healthcare field.” Thus far, Lauren has been on the Academic Dean’s List every semester at UW La Crosse. She holds an advanced EMT license. Lauren served on a Vida Medical Mission trip to Costa Rica. She continues to volunteer at the St. Clare Health Mission, a free healthcare clinic in La Crosse, where she helps provide healthcare services to those that do not qualify for health insurance. Lauren is also able to use her Spanish minor to help provide translations when needed. Once she has earned her undergraduate degree, it is Lauren’s goal to continue her education in Physician Assistant’s graduate school, where she will be able to provide healthcare in many different areas.

Elizabeth P. (BRF Class of 2018) has made the Dean’s list all six semesters at UM Duluth where she is studying Biology, Biochemistry and Spanish. Last year Elizabeth volunteered on a medical trip to Costa Rica. She was awarded a scholarship for the summer of 2021 to do lab research at her University, where she is working on developing and testing at-home protocols in an upper level chemistry course. Elizabeth is still discerning what life after college will mean for her, but she is drawn to careers in either the medical or environmental science fields. One of Elizabeth’s recent classes provided her with new insight into the biotechnology field, and she is considering that as well.

Madysen M. (BRF Class of 2019) is one of only 24 students who have already been accepted into the 2025 3+2 Physician’s Assistant Program at Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences. She recently traveled to Guatemala, where she was a clinic volunteer. During the 2021 school year, Madysen began her senior thesis research where she is working with mice to determine if ingesting probiotics can reduce the inflammatory response. Upon graduation, Madysen plans to work as an OB/GYN Physician’s Assistant in a rural area. She plans to continue volunteering in areas of need in both the U.S. and other countries. Madysen is also considering becoming a part of the Doctors Without Borders organization.

Sydney S. (BRF Class of 2019) is majoring in Marketing and Human Resource Management at UW Milwaukee where so far she has been named to the Dean’s list every semester. Sydney was selected as one of 2021’s Lubar 25, twenty-five undergraduate students in the Lubar School of Business who stand out for their accomplishments in academics, entrepreneurship, leadership, and campus/community service. In addition, for two consecutive years, Sydney’s team won first place in the school’s Ethics Case Competition. She was also chosen for two professional marketing internships. Upon graduation, Sydney would like to work in a corporate digital marketing role and eventually return to BRF to open her own bakery.

Zoe D. (BRF Class of 2020) is proud to have been accepted to New York University and did not hesitate to begin her postsecondary education even in the midst of a pandemic. Zoe is pursuing a degree in Communications and plans to further her education to work in environmental law. Zoe works two jobs while attending school full time. She and her best friend, whom she met at NYU, rent a small apartment on the lower east side of Manhattan. Below is an excerpt from Zoe’s application where she eloquently describes facing COVID in New York City as a young student from a small town.

Last semester was a semester of growth, a semester of confusion, and one of understanding. I grew out of my shell and found myself faced with new challenges every day. New York City has shown me the importance of self-discipline. Along with the challenges of beginning anew in New York, I’ve had to learn how to make time for myself, COVID-19 has allowed for introspection and perseverance. In a strange way, I’m thankful for this past year of chaos. I feel as though I’ve grown in insurmountable ways and become a stronger, more dedicated, student.

It’s an interesting world here; the culmination of competitiveness graced with the expectation of success, creates an environment that doesn’t necessarily accommodate working students and so it is rare to find an NYU student that works during the school year. However in order to pay my living expenses, I must. I accepted a job as a nanny to young twin boys. Currently I’m in the process of applying for summer internships in the city, and plan on continuing to nanny to support myself.

Had it not been for scholarships, I wouldn’t have been able to finance my education here. I cannot begin to put into words how thankful I am that I came from the small town of Black River Falls and graduated from high school there. I always smile when people ask where I’m from. I usually respond with “A very small, rural town in Wisconsin.” I enjoy watching as their faces change from curiosity to surprise. I have yet to encounter a Freshman at NYU who is also from Wisconsin, let alone Black River Falls. In retrospect, I believe I owe my time here at NYU to BRF High School. Back home, I was offered every possible opportunity for growth by my teachers and aids. I have come to realize that, while I assumed this was the norm, not everyone here, or at any other University for that matter, is fortunate enough to have had that same experience. I feel that the sense of stability and the education I received in BRF, has prepared me well for life.”

Erin R. (BRF Class of 2015) received an Associate’s Degree for Pharmacy Technician in 2016. In 2020, she was named to UW Eau Claire’s Dean’s list with a 4.0 GPA and graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. Erin volunteered as a Student Academic Apprentice where she assisted the Professor and helped mentor students. She completed six graduate school applications and interviews, and in September she entered the University of Western States in Portland Oregon to earn her Master’s Degree in Applied Sport and Performance Psychology. After graduation, Erin will use positive coaching and demonstration to help athletes, performers, or military personnel, succeed both mentally and emotionally in their field of performance.

Eric W. (BRF Class of 2020) graduated during the pandemic and was determined to make the most of his first year of postsecondary education at UW Green Bay. Eric earned a GPA of 3.46 and served as both a Student Ambassador and as President of the Student Senate. He was selected for a student leader award from the Menomonie & Marinette Foundation. Eric did his work study at the Boys and Girls Club in Marinette where he served as a Youth Development Specialist. In the summer of 2021, he worked at Aptiv as a youth mentor for children with disabilities. Eric was chosen to participate in the National Network for Safe Communities program at UW Green Bay. In addition, he is an advocate for the LGBT community and did an interview on news Channel 18 about the correlation of suicide and LGBT youth. Eric is a Psychology major with minors in Biology and Criminal Justice. His ultimate goal is to become a forensic psychiatrist. He will be attending Northern Arizona University in his Junior year. Eric is also delighted to have been accepted for an internship to help at the winter Olympics in Beijing, China.