When the late Win Wallin was in the hospital being treated for cancer, a Wallin Scholar cared for him. He could take pride in the fact that this doctor had made it through his undergraduate years of college thanks in large part to the scholarship program he founded in 1992 in Minneapolis.
Since then, the program, which seeks out students from low- and moderate-income families, has expanded to include other donor partners and to serve a number of school districts in the metro area. The Anoka-Hennepin School District was added in 2007. To date, Wallin Education Partners has helped approximately 3,400 high school seniors realize their dreams of attending college. Nearly 60 percent of those scholarships were funded solely by the generosity of Wallin and his wife, Maxine.
This year, 28 students representing each of the district’s comprehensive high schools were awarded scholarships at a celebration May 21 at the Educational Service Center. Each will receive $4,000 a year for four years plus the assistance of a mentor to help with the transition between high school and college.
Susan Basil King, executive director of Wallin Education Partners, congratulated the scholars and stressed that the organization cares deeply about the success of each. Wallin Education Partners help students not only to go to college, but also to graduate from college, she stressed. About 87 percent of students who have received Wallin scholarships graduate within four years. By contrast, the national average is 59 percent.
With words of advice to the scholars, Dan Coughlin, a 2010 graduate of Coon Rapids High School who had earned a Wallin Education Partners scholarship, compared his experience at the University of Minnesota to running a marathon.
“No doubt the training you completed in Anoka-Hennepin has prepared you,” he said, “but there will be ups and downs.” During the low times he urged students to “look to the sidelines. Your family will be cheering you on.” And if you do poorly on an exam, “learn from your mistakes and keep running.”
Coughlin studied biomedical engineering and was beginning to have doubts about his choice when he got the opportunity to go to Nicaragua and work as a technician repairing outdated medical equipment. That experience helped him realize he was on the right path. He encouraged students to expect great things from themselves because they have the “knowledge to be able to run the race.” Coughlin has now started his career in engineering at Vascular Solutions in Maple Grove.
Like Coughlin, a number of Wallin Scholars plan to study engineering. Among them are Christian Tanner, Anoka High School, who plans to study biomedical engineering at the University of Minnesota, and Ericka Grefsheim, Andover High School, who is interested in medicine but has decided she is even more interested in the science behind medical devices.
“I want to work on a team developing devices so I know my hard work will help someone,” Grefsheim said.
Craig Boster said the Center for Engineering, Mathematics and Science at Blaine High School helped him grow and improve his study habits, which will help when he studies mechanical engineering at the University of St. Thomas.
Qiming Lin, Coon Rapids High School, plans to study civil engineering at the University of Minnesota. She will be the first in her family to attend college and said that while her family pushed her to do her best, college “would not have been possible without the help of the Wallins.”
As each student took the podium to speak about their plans and dreams, they expressed thanks to the Wallin family, the Wallin partners, their schools and their families.
They are a group of students with wide-ranging interests. Mathew Cox, Andover High School, plans to attend the University of St. Thomas and eventually go to medical school, but he has many other options. “I love science,” he said, “but I could also talk my head off about history, sports or philosophy.”
And then there’s Aliyah Grant, Champlin Park High School, who plans to be an OB-GYN doctor, yet also enjoys history and gets “emotional about it,” loves traveling, and has a passion for learning Spanish.
Many of the scholars studied Spanish or plan to study Spanish. Among them are Ellie McCabe, Champlin Park High School, who plans to major in English, but continue learning Spanish at the University of Minnesota so she can teach in an English as a Second Language program. Megan Kallestad, Blaine High School, wants to study Spanish, as well as Latin, Greek and Arabic so she can travel the world, learn about cultures and work as a translator.
Helping others was a common theme. Justice Anderson, Anoka High School, plans to attend the University of Minnesota – Morris, to study biology and eventually go into medicine. Her lifelong dream is saving lives. “If you need a joint replaced in 12 years, wait for me. I’ll be there!” she said.
Brothers Garrett and Spencer Peloquin, Coon Rapids High School, are the first Anoka-Hennepin twins to be named Wallin Scholars. Garrett plans to study aerospace engineering at the University of Minnesota because he loves to learn about the unknown, and Spencer said he has many interests. He thanked the Wallin Education Partners for creating “a better future for not just me, but for everyone here and making the world a better place for humanity.”
2014 Wallin Scholarship recipients
Andover High School:
Matthew Cox, University of St. Thomas
Drew Richards, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Erika Grefsheim, Iowa State University
Mitchell Gutenberg, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Anoka High School:
Elijah Schipper, Bethel University
Christian Tanner, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Justice Anderson, University of Minnesota, Morris
Jaisy Fuentes, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Rachael Graske, University of Northwestern-St. Paul
Jennifer Stanley, Luther College
Blaine High School:
Craig Boster, University of St. Thomas
Megan Kallestad, Gustavus Adolphus College
Champlin Park High School:
Ellie McCabe, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Zacharie Konicek, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Mark Ruprecht, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Mitchell Rue, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Matthew Gamber, University of St. Thomas
Aliyah Grant (Jones), University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Selena Khori, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Esther Okelola, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Alex Wachowiak, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Lynnea Waydula, Winona State University
Coon Rapids High School:
Emily Bauer, Bethel University
Qiming Lin, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Angela Hoang, Macalester College
Evan Kudzia, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Garrett Peloquin, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Spencer Peloquin, University of Wisconsin, Stout