Success Stories

Jon Anderson was the first Foundation scholarship recipient in 1989, receiving the $1,000 Lions/Rotary Scholarship. He attended UW Stevens Point where he received his Bachelor of Science degree and he received his Ph.D. degree in Animal Science at the University of Missouri, Columbia.

Quote from Nancy Klevgard whose son, Robert Klevegard, received the Leland and Jeanette Larson Scholarship in 2008.

My son, Robert Klevgard, has had “planes on the brain” since he was a toddler. With his Dad as his flight instructor, it was easy to feed this longing to fly. He flew solo, alone in our little four-seater Piper Cherokee, on his 16th birthday, before he had a driver’s license, and hoped to somehow make a career of it someday.

The Leland and Jeanette Larson Scholarship helped make it all possible! Robert graduated from high school in 2008 and, with this scholarship, was able to attend Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville, graduating with an FAA certification in Airframe and Powerplant Repair. He could now fix and repair gas or jet engines, as well as the body of an airplane or jet.

Thanks to that certification, he was able to get an excellent job fixing aircraft while attending a top aviation school – the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation Maintenance Technology in 2012.

Robert has been working at Spring City Aviation in Waukesha the last two years, where he fixes aircraft and, best of all, teaches people of all ages how to fly. He has also obtained his Airline Transport Certificate, Multi-Engine and Instrument Instructor Certificates and his Seaplane rating.

Robert remains very grateful for the Leland and Jeanette Larson Scholarship he received. So are the members of his family, who reside in Hixton and Taylor.

The Black River Falls Area Foundation is a wonderful support and aide to our community and its young people. When I graduated from Black River Falls High School in 2008, I was fortunate to receive two scholarships from the Foundation: the Duane and Lavina Hoffman Scholarship and the Erwin and Thelma Homstad Scholarship. I was able to apply these scholarships to my educational costs at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire in my pursuit of a degree in Elementary Education. Becoming a teacher was my “private hope and dream” and the Foundation and its donors helped me achieve it.

Currently, I am a fifth-grade teacher in the Eau Claire Area School District. I am grateful for the chance at fulfilling my hope and dream, and trust that the knowledge, time, and love I invest in my students will inspire them to pursue their own dreams. The understanding that I have a chance to make a difference in children’s lives is so exciting, and the Foundation was a source of support in helping me to achieve my dream.

I thank the Foundation and the scholarship donors who supported me. Education is indeed the means of developing our greatest abilities, which will benefit and strengthen everyone.

– Chelsea Bahnub

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.

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 post- secondary 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.

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 post- secondary 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.”

BRF Alumni Students make their Hometown Proud!

BRF Alumni not only shine during their years in school, but also once they have completed their educations and enter the workforce. Below is a short update on a few past BRF Alumni Scholarship recipients. The BRF community should be very proud of these young men and women, the services they are providing and the marks they are leaving on the world today.

Olivia L. (BRF Class of 2011) graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2015 from UW Oshkosh with a degree in Biochemistry and a distinctive award for her work in Biomolecular Science. Olivia went on to graduate Summa Cum Laude from Concordia University’s four-year pharmacy program and became a Dr. of Pharmacy. She did her internship at Froedert Hospital and began her career there as a Clinical Pharmacist. Olivia works in both the transplant and cardiology departments with the hope to eventually work in cardiology full time.

Maria L. (BRF Class of 2013) went on to attend UW La Crosse, majoring in Exercise/Sports Science with a minor in Spanish. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Exercise & Sports Science and then continued with grad school at UW La Crosse in the physical therapy program, graduating Summa Cum Laude in 2020 and is now a Dr. of Physical Therapy. She was one of only three students to receive a scholarship from the La Crosse Foundation. Maria did her clinical studies in three different locations, including Arizona, where she accepted a job offer. When she graduated, the pandemic was in full force. She was not able to have a traditional graduation and wasn’t able to start her job as expected. Maria wanted to stay in Arizona and thanks to BRF resident Roger Castle, she was able to do so. She stayed at his second home and he only asked that she pay utilities. Maria worked at Target and made it through COVID. She has now started her originally planned job, where she loves her patients and feels she is truly making a positive difference in their lives.

Matthew L. (BRF Class of 2015) graduated from UW La Crosse in 2020 where he majored in Sport Management with Concentration in Coaching. He is currently attending UM Twin Cities and will be graduating in May of 2022. Matthew has been selected to serve a paid school year internship with the Minnesota Golden Gophers. He will be working with event coordination, collaborating with athletic department units, campus and city officials, and vendors. Matthew will also be assisting with event production including game operations, guest services, crowd management, participant transition, risk management assessment, and emergency response. He will also be assisting the administration in hiring, training, and supervising staff, fiscal and inventory management and updating operation publications.

Hannah S. (BRF Class of 2015) graduated from Chippewa Valley Technical College in 2017 and from UW Eau Claire’s Health Care Administration Program in 2020. Hannah received several local scholarships to help with the costs of her post-secondary education. She writes “I would like to thank the committee for giving students the chance to prove their academic excellence and by funding their educational journey with these generous scholarships. Going to college and working part-time is no easy task and the scholarship awards provide much needed help. Again, thank you on behalf of every student for the opportunity to attend college and lead a successful life.” Hannah financed most of her education by working two part-time jobs, one at Kwik Trip and the other as a CNA. She writes ‘During my years in college I’ve found satisfaction in giving back to the community by volunteering and working as a Certified Nursing Assistant to extend my education as a Health Care Administrator even further. I believe being a strong leader means being knowledgeable in all roles, not just your own. I aspire to be the type of leader where I’m not just seen as the Administrator, but can help my clinical staff with the daily tasks.” Hannah currently holds both Federal and State Nursing Home Administrator Licenses and serves as an administrator for Dove Healthcare systems. She is responsible for the overall operation of the fifty bed SNF in Rice Lake and the 35 unit RCAC located in Baron.

Nikolas P. (BRF Class of 2016) graduated with highest Latin honors from the University of Minnesota in 2020 with a degree in aerospace engineering. In 2017, Nick drove to Texas, INTO Hurricane Harvey, to begin his first of two internships with NASA. The second internship was done at NASA in California. He is currently working at Honeywell in the Twin Cities applying his skill set to drone research/development while simultaneously attending graduate school for robotics at University of Minnesota. Nick also continues to compete on the UM triathlon team.

As you can see, these fantastic young people are thriving. They have overcome many obstacles from COVID to speech impairment, learning disabilities and financial struggles, and all have been successful. What a commentary they are on the BRF community and an inspiration for all of us to be the best we can. It truly ‘takes a village,’ and what a village we have been blessed with where people are willing to share their time, talents and money to help others succeed. If you, or someone you know, is interested in contributing to any of the Foundation Scholarship Funds, please contact the Foundation office. There are options available for donations of all size.