Scholarships offer promise to students
JANESVILLE — Lydia Lobrano had an opportunity to study abroad in England last year thanks to a scholarship that she received her senior year of high school.
The Janesville Parker High School graduate and University of Wisconsin-Whitewater junior was one of several recipients of the Janesville Promise Fund Scholarship in 2012. The scholarship, established by UW-Whitewater alumni Quint and Rishy Studer about three years ago, is for Craig and Parker high school graduates who have been accepted to UW-Whitewater.
“We want students to be able to attend from their freshman year all the way up to their senior year,” Kate Loftus, executive director of development at UW-Whitewater, said about the promise scholarships. “When students don't have to worry as much about finances, they're more likely to concentrate on their classwork and they're more likely to get involved with campus activities.”
Without the scholarship, Lobrano said she wouldn't have been able to participate in the study abroad program. While in England, she attended business, cultural communication and sports management courses, as well as making a tour of other European countries.
“It was a life-changing experience,” Lobrano said. “I got to tour all of England. I also got to visit the Netherlands, Italy and France.
“I was able to go on my own without my parents. I got to choose what I wanted to do. I got to cross a lot of things off of my bucket list while I was there.”
Receiving the scholarship helped Lobrano decide where to attend college.
“I was going to go to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, but after I received the scholarship, I decided to go to UW-Whitewater,” she said.
Students who are interested in the scholarship program must complete an application, receive letters of recommendation from their teachers, write an essay and complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid form. The deadline to submit materials is March 15.
Craig and Parker students who have been accepted to the university are encouraged to apply for the scholarships, Loftus said.
“We're looking for more than just grade point average and ACT scores,” she said. “We're looking for students with various backgrounds to apply.”
For the essay, students can write about academics, life experiences or career goals, Loftus said.
“The students mostly have to explain why they would be a good candidate,” she said. “Some students talk about their financial situation and their financial need. Some students really don't have a financial need and they talk about their academics.
“We try to select students who have the best chance of staying all four years.”
About 30 students applied for last year's scholarship program. The university tries to award at least 10 scholarships a year, Loftus said.
The average scholarship is for $20,000 — $5,000 per year for four years. In order to maintain their scholarship, a student must remain in good academic standing, remain a full-time student and attend UW-Whitewater for four years.
“It depends on how much money is in the fund, and it depends on if students stay or not,” Loftus said. “If a student drops out, more money would be available to other students.”
The application materials are reviewed by a committee made up of university administrators and professors.
Matt Aschenbrener, assistant vice chancellor for enrollment and retention, said the committee looks at several types of criteria when reviewing the materials.
“Each student is different,” Aschenbrener said. “Some students have high financial needs and are supporting a family, and we take that into consideration.”
Aschenbrener said he would like to see more students apply for the scholarship.
“We know there's more students from Janesville who attend UW-Whitewater,” Aschenbrener said. “We encourage students to apply for it. We try to make it as easy for them as possible.”
Lobrano said she learned about the scholarship program through her composition class.
“The class taught you how to write an essay, how to write a resume and how to write a cover letter,” Lobrano said. “The teachers asked if any of us had planned on attending UW-Whitewater. I had no idea what (the scholarship) was. ... My teachers were really accommodating about writing a referral letter for me. I knew it was a big opportunity for me.”
Lobrano is studying marketing and international business at UW-Whitewater. She plans to work in the sports industry or for a company that does business internationally.
“I'm glad to be here. I've made friendships that I know I'll have for a lifetime,” Lobrano said about her experience at UW-Whitewater. “I've made friendships that I wouldn't have made if I went to UW-Green Bay.
“I like the small-town charm. Everything is focused on the university. Everyone attends the sporting events. There's so much loyalty in the town.”