Foundation Board President Ray Camosy told more than 300 donors, scholarship recipients, and their family members, that the event brings together the Foundation's two most important constituencies. "To our donors, please accept a very robust thank you for your attendance and your generosity," Camosy said. "Without you, there would be no successes to celebrate. Our heartfelt appreciation goes out to all that you do to support student success here at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. To our scholarship recipients, you inspire us, we cherish your successes."
Tim Mahone, secretary of the UW-Parkside Foundation Board and a representative of the Mary Lou and Arthur F. Mahone Fund, got right to the point. "For me and my family, education has always been a part of our lives," Mahone said. "My mother and father worked very hard in this community to provide pathways for students. They knew well the key to success in life was, is, and will remain, education. Everyone has a role to play in educating our young people. Only through working together can we sustain great education in our community."
The Kenosha Area Business Alliance (KABA) Foundation recently expanded its education mission in Kenosha County with the Catalyst2Careers scholarship program. Catalyst2Careers supports first-generation students from Kenosha County attending UW-Parkside and pursuing in-demand careers in math, science, technology, medicine, engineering and business. Brooke Infusino, director of talent development at KABA, talked about the importance of relevant education. "Creating talent is one thing, creating the right talent is what we need to drive additional growth," Infusino said. "Partnerships between KABA and UW-Parkside help focus on the relevant needs of this region."
Infusino, who is also a Foundation board member, highlighted new Parkside academic offerings including the post-baccalaureate teacher licensure programs in pre-engineering and CTE (career and technology education), the only such teacher-licensure programs in Wisconsin. "The sales and retail management certificates, the APP factory, and cyber security programs are just a few additional examples of how partnerships create the talent our region needs," she said. "KABA applauds the faculty and staff at UW-Parkside for seeking out new ways to engage students and the community to address the future needs of this region."
Board member Heidi Skatrud, vice president at Runzheimer International, shared an inspirational story of educational opportunities in theatre. Skatrud's mother, Lois, followed a lifelong passion of being involved with theatre beginning at age 55. Lois Skatrud enjoyed the theatre as a young person. Then, after she had raised six children, she found time once again and established youth theatre group in Milton, Wis., through the local Optimist club. Heidi Skatrud created a theatre arts scholarship at UW-Parkside in her mother's name.
Possibly the most energetic example of how education transforms lives came from scholarship recipient and pre-med student Antonio Covelli. Earlier this year, Covelli was selected to participate in the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health RUSCH program. RUSCH is an acronym for Rural and Urban Scholars in Community Health. In the past two years, 10 pre-med students from Parkside have been accepted into the program. The goal of RUSCH is to prepare more highly qualified doctors for underserved rural and urban areas of Wisconsin.
Covelli talked about the value of financial support in reaching his dream of becoming a doctor, and the value of educational support from Parkside faculty. "I wanted to be a doctor, but I had no idea how to get there," Covelli said. "Then I started going to classes, stated talking to my advisors Mary Beuscher and Dr. Bryan Lewis. I got entrenched in the courses, the Pre-Health Club, the RUSCH program. In my opinion, there is no comparison with how this school prepares you and what they do to help you get into your programs.
"When I was a freshman, I hoped I could get into med school. After a couple of years here at Parkside, I believe I can get into med school. That's important to me."
When UW-Parkside Chancellor Debbie Ford took the stage to close the program, she echoed Covelli's praise for the pre-med program and it's students. "UW-Parkside boasts a 90 percent placement rate in medical school over the past 12 years," she said. "The national average is 40 percent. What is lost in this data sound bite is the incredible effort that is made by our pre-health students in securing their dream.
"Antonio is a great example of what it takes to secure a spot in medical school. He and his classmates inhabit a space in our central corridor all year sharing ideas, notes and supporting each other through our rigorous program. When I say all year I mean all year. Morning, noon, night, weekends and yes even on spring break when most students are off campus. They have impressive focus."
Affordable Access to Education
Ford also stressed the importance of affordable education. "I was inspired by Tim Mahone's comments, 'without affordability there is no access to education.' It is so clear to me tonight that the strength and vitality of southeastern Wisconsin is, in large part, tied to high quality, affordable education," Ford said. "I stand with you tonight a proud partner in this important effort."
In addition to offering affordable education thanks to a strong partnership with generous donors, Ford reminded everyone of their important role in student success and what that means to our communities. "When our students succeed, most certainly our communities succeed," Ford said. "Parkside graduates are the talent well-established and emerging businesses desire today. Parkside graduates become the highly trained physicians and nurses who provide quality health care. Parkside graduates are the creative ones, the artists and musicians who impact the quality of our lives in so many ways.
"Together, we are making a real and amazing difference."