Giving StoriesPage address: https://www.mnsu.edu/giving/stories/
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Senior Tatiana Soboleva has turned her scholarship money into powerful motivation to pursue her passion now and in the future.
“By receiving these scholarships, you feel so much responsibility for the outcome. It’s not like you’d do poorly in any of your courses, it’s just a responsibility that you feel toward your education.”
— Tatiana Soboleva
There's no question that Tatiana Soboleva, a 22-year-old senior biochemistry major, is passionate and motivated. Over the course of four years, the Moldova native has earned a dozen scholarships and fellowships—and she doesn't take any of them for granted. Soboleva has been profoundly shaped by the generosity of those who made her education possible.
"Some of the scholarships and fellowships were crucial in me picking the actual career I'd like to follow," she says. "Initially I was sure I'd be continuing a Ph.D in biochemical sciences. The last fellowship I received was related to inorganic and synthetic chemistry. That turned my whole attitude of what I would like to do because I got a chance to have hands-on experiences in that domain and I loved it."
After graduating in the spring, Soboleva plans to pursue a Ph.D with the ultimate goal of either entering academia in the United States or bringing her teaching and research expertise back to Moldova. She also hopes to give students like herself similar opportunities to discover and pursue their passions.
"I truly was inspired to create my own fund eventually," she says. "[As a professor] I'd like to be in touch with students, see new minds and encourage them. With a creation of my personal fund in the future, I could make that possible."
Thanks to the generosity of Richard Murray and his family, Murray's legacy of helping students succeed lives on.
“A major gift like this helps us start providing support for students immediately. We know that Minnesota State Mankato has made a difference in many lives, and these scholarships will give a new generation the same opportunity.”
— Brian Jones, Director of Admissions
Richard Murray '71 passed away in 2011, but his legacy lives on in the form of two generous endowments. In his will, Murray left $25,000 to establish the Richard E. Murray volunteerism endowment—but his legacy did not end there.
When Murray's family discovered after his death that he owned commercial property, they chose to donate it to Minnesota State Mankato. Proceeds from the sale provided for a second fund specifically for students who otherwise may not have been able to attend a four-year university.
"Many first-generation students have already demonstrated their ability to be successful, and there is no doubt they should be at Minnesota State Mankato, but they just can't afford it," says Brian Jones, Minnesota State Mankato's director of admissions. "This gift will go a long way in supporting students who are simply starting out at a disadvantage."
Murray, who spent much of his career as director of career services at St. Cloud State, demonstrated a commitment to guiding and shaping his students' futures. Thanks to his generosity and his family's gift, that commitment is bound to live on for years to come.
Recent grad Haley Doran relied on her scholarship money to complete two majors and kill it on the volleyball court.
“Scholarship funds helped me do two majors at once instead of just one. [Without that], I wouldn’t have been able to do what I did at Minnesota State Mankato.”
As the recipient of a four-year Presidential Scholarship, Haley Doran '15 was encouraged to write letters to the donors who made that scholarship possible.
"I made sure I explained how important their scholarship donations were and how it helped with my personal family situation," she says.
Early in Doran's college career, her family went through a hardship that impacted their financial situation and would have made paying for college a struggle. Without her scholarship money—both from the Presidential Scholarship and an athletic award in volleyball—Doran is certain her college and career path would have turned out differently.
"The scholarships allowed me to excel and be successful in academics and in volleyball," she says. "I was able to relax and not have to rely so much on having to pay for things; I could multi-task."
The 22-year-old communication disorders and Spanish major is now in her first year of graduate school at the University of Iowa, studying speech and language pathology.
"I wouldn't be in a great graduate school program without [these scholarships], for sure," she says. "It would have been too much of a stress. I owe a lot of my success and overall pleasant experience to them."
Lina Wang has been interested in science since she was a kid. She's made a career of her passion thanks to dedicated faculty and generous scholarship funding.
“It is an honor to be a scholarship recipient. I hope future recipients will take away from the university as much as I have.”
As a high school sophomore, budding scientist Lina Wang '14 was looking for help calculating a chemical concentration.
"None of my high school teachers knew what to do so my dad and I went to Minnesota State Mankato's campus to ask if there was a professor who was willing and knew how to calculate it," she says. "All the professors pointed us to Dr. [Shannon] Fisher."
Fisher was more than willing to help. In fact, the professor of Biological Sciences went on to mentor Wang during her junior and senior years of high school. It was his guidance that solidified her interest in Minnesota State Mankato and studying aquatic life. Wang excelled in her studies and was awarded several research grants and a Babe and Chuck Pennington Botany Scholarship, which only added fuel to her passion for the research sciences.
"Apart from being helpful financially, it was nice to know the school and donors realize there are some students who go above and beyond their regular everyday homework and going to class and in a sense reward us for doing something like that," she says.
Wang graduated with degree concentrations in toxicology and environmental sciences and is now a graduate assistant at St. Cloud State.
A grant for field research provides MS candidate Kyle Mullen with valuable experience outside the classroom.
“It’s kind of crazy to think someone gave this large award that allows for not just me but numerous students to do the same thing I did. I’d like to be able to do that myself one day.”
Graduate school is a notoriously lean time in the life of a student. Between all the typical academic and living costs, many students need to support field research projects to enrich their education and bolster their resumes. Kyle Mullen, 33, a MS candidate in Geography, received a grant from the Goff Field Research funds, which are available through a geography endowment established by Betty Goff. The grant allowed him to travel to South Dakota last spring where he used satellite imaging to identify beetle-infested trees.
"Being a graduate student, you have limited resources. You're scraping by," he says. "[This gift] allowed me to financially support the field component of my research. Without it there wasn't any way I could afford the lodging, travel and supplies to do the field component."
Mullen's field research not only brought him personal and academic satisfaction, he gained valuable experience—from writing a grant proposal to earn the award, to planning and executing a multi-day excursion—that will help as he enters the job market in 2016.
"I'm looking for a career [with] some kind of research component—a public agency, forest service or state agency—within the natural resources," he says. "If you have done the planning and on-the-fly adjustments field work requires…people who are hiring know you can handle the rigors the job entails. Having that experience will help me quite a bit."
The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well at Minnesota State Mankato, thanks in part to alum Craig Lloyd.
“Not all entrepreneurs are great students (me included), so this was an opportunity for me to inspire an entrepreneurial spirit in others.”
Last spring two nursing students stood on the stage in Ostrander Auditorium and were handed a check for $10,000. The Minnesota State Mankato students had an idea to help families struggling with special needs and sick children, an idea that earned them the first ever Big Ideas Challenge grand prize of $8,000 and the $2,000 people's choice award, all sponsored and funded by entrepreneur and alum Craig Lloyd '72.
"I wanted to contribute to Minnesota State Mankato, and my first instinct was to start a scholarship fund," says Lloyd, who runs Lloyd Companies. "I started talking about my philanthropic goals and was encouraged to look at giving to a program that reflects more on who I am as an entrepreneur."
Lloyd has achieved great success in business, but he started out as an average student who found that scholarships were generally geared toward those who made As. "C students still need encouragement, and this is a way that even they can compete for what is intended to be seed money to further develop a big idea," he says.
Lloyd hopes all students will glean valuable life lessons from the Big Ideas Challenge, which he hopes will be an annual event.
"This challenge provides a practical, hands-on and risk-free environment for young minds to develop and pursue dreams," he says.
A lifelong teacher creates a planned gift to help future teachers succeed.
“We think it’s just so important to help other people if you can, to pay it forward, give back, make a difference, however you want to say it. I just feel that if you can give back, you should.”
Pam (Kassin) Fredrickson '68, and her husband, Gary, have dedicated their careers and their lives to teaching. Pam, an English teacher in Osseo for 30 years, and Gary, a music teacher, believe strongly in the power of English and the arts in shaping future leaders.
"To be successful in all of your classes, I think having a basic knowledge of the arts is important," Pam says. "If you speak well and write well and communicate, that's going to serve you in all your subjects."
It's for this reason that Pam and Gary (a Hamline University grad) established planned gifts to their respective universities. Pam's planned gift to Minnesota State Mankato will help future students as they work toward teaching degrees.
"We wanted the scholarships to help students who wanted to pursue a career in education," she says. "We just feel it's really important to have good teachers teaching the youth of the country."
And, the retired educator hopes recipients of her gift may be inspired to pay it forward, just as she has.
"If they become teachers and are in love with it as I was, maybe at some point they'll see fit to help someone else achieve a dream or a goal and be successful," she says.
Mavericks basketball superfans Paul and Sue Wilke set up a scholarship fund to support the players and the team they love.
“When we were looking at things to do with our money, we decided we wanted to see our money work while we were still living and still young.”
Mavericks who get a hankering for pizza in the wee hours of the morning can thank long-time Mankato residents Paul and Sue Wilke for bringing the Toppers Pizza franchise to town.
Not only is it the only pizza joint open until 3 a.m., under the Wilkes' management, Toppers became the official pizza of Mavericks athletics—a natural fit for Paul and Sue, who have been closely following Mavericks basketball since they were high schoolers in Winnebago.
The Wilkes opened Toppers in 2007 as a way to help their two sons pay for college at Minnesota State Mankato; they sold the business in 2012 after both boys graduated (debt-free). They've now turned their thoughts to giving back in other ways.
"Being we've been such fans of the Maverick basketball program and have lots of confidence in Matt Margenthaler and Mike Schott as coaches, we knew that would be the first place we really connected with Minnesota State Mankato," says Paul.
The couple established an annual scholarship to be awarded to a male varsity basketball player. The young man must be a junior or senior and maintain a 3.0 GPA. A third condition reflects the couple's life and work in the community: "preference is given to somebody in the College of Business," Paul says.
You Can Help, Too!
If you'd like to make a difference in the lives of Minnesota State Mankato students, an endowed scholarship through a bequest in your will is a great way to extend the support you offer today, forever. To learn more, contact Vice President of University Advancement Kent Stanley at 507-389-2021 or email@example.com.