During the upcoming 2017-18 academic year, the Winona State University Foundation will award over 900 scholarships totaling more than $1.2 million dollars.

Each year WSU students have the opportunity to earn a large variety of scholarships, supported by donors, alumni, friends of the university, and local businesses and community members.

The Industry for the Advancement of WSU Composite Materials Engineering Scholarship, for example, represents a 14-year partnership between the WSU Department of Composite Materials Engineering and area composites businesses like RTP and PlastiCert.

In early 2002, Joe Cameron and Larry Rupprecht of RTP Company, along with Fariborz Parsi, professor and department chair of Composite Materials Engineering, arranged for an annual golf outing event through the local branch of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE). The first two events were financially successful, and the first $500 scholarship was awarded in 2003.

“We’ve had fantastic support from the local composite community and their supplier base,” said Rupprecht, who noted that next year’s golf outing is already set for Sept. 14 at Cedar Valley Golf Course.

To date, $131,000 has been raised for the scholarship fund, which is managed through the WSU Foundation, and more than $27,700 in scholarships has been awarded. In fall 2016, eleven $1,000 scholarships were awarded to WSU Composite Materials Engineering students, among them Katya Hoffman and Abraham Folkerts.

For many students, scholarship funds provide much needed relief from financial burdens as well as the stress that accompanies worrying about how to pay the bills.

“This year has been especially financially stressful for myself and my mother, so having this extra help come in as I’m finishing my education at WSU has been extremely helpful,” said Hoffman.

However, the benefits of receiving this particular scholarship go way beyond the financial assistance, according to the students.

For Folkerts, it provides recognition of his achievements and progress in the program: it’s “an affirmation of the hard work that I have put in over the last four years. It means so much that I am honored with this award.”

Alexander Klatt, who received the scholarship during the 2015-16 academic year, agreed, further noting that “the scholarship signifies the Composite Materials Engineering industry has an interest in helping me through my schooling as an encouraging prospect.”

The students also appreciate that the scholarship represents businesses in their chosen industry investing in their future and supporting young students starting out in the field.

The scholarship “is just another great way (the industry) supports the local students,” said Hoffman.

The Industry for the Advancement of WSU Composite Materials Engineering Scholarship is open only to Composite Materials Engineering majors. However, there are many other WSU Foundation scholarships open to WSU students of all majors. The deadline for applications for the 2017-18 academic year has been extended to March 1, 2017. WSU students can log in at https://winona.academicworks.com to view scholarships for which they are eligible.

Applying for scholarships takes only a small amount of time to possibly make thousands of dollars, Folkerts said. “Applying for scholarships should be encouraged!”

For more information on WSU Scholarships, visit http://www.winona.edu/foundation/scholarships.asp or email wsuscholarships@winona.edu.

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Brian Waldbillig

Brian is a Public Relations major and Communication Studies minor from Farmington, MN. His hobbies include photography, hiking and going to concerts.