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It was a night to celebrate more than 50 scholarship winners at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, Fond du Lac campus and express gratitude to donors who invest in the students’ educational journey.

Investing in Excellence, a scholar and donor recognition reception, was hosted Sept. 25 at the school by the UW-Fond du Lac Foundation and Alumni Association.

Bob and Crystal Carew—steadfast supporters of student scholars on the Fond du Lac campus ̶ were honored with the Foundation’s Spirit of Excellence Award.

Bob explained that he enrolled at then UW-Fond du Lac in 1973, but after his first year he took time off to help his father start a family business, Action Printing and Action Advertiser. He continued his education the following year while working at the business and eventually transferred to UW Oshkosh to complete a degree in journalism. He met his wife Crystal (Schulz) in a public relations class on the UWO campus and they both graduated from UW Oshkosh (he in January, 1979 and she in May, 1979).

Bob Carew credits the faculty and staff at the UW-Fond du Lac who helped and encouraged him to keep going with his coursework. He would one day become president and chief executive officer of the family business.

The Carew’s decided to “pay it forward” by starting an endowed scholarship fund. The scholarships have impacted the lives of many students whose lives benefit from education.

“As donors, we love reading your thank you letters and chatting with you at this reception,” Bob Carew said. “Thank you for sharing your dreams and ambitions. It really helps all of us feel like we have made a difference in someone’s life. We are always amazed at the interesting study and career paths you are choosing—some that didn’t even exist 10 years ago.”

Bob Carew, a former Foundation board member, said he chose UW-Fond du Lac because it allowed him to continue to work and save money by living at home his first two years of school. By the time he went to UW Oshkosh, he had a “much better understanding of where I wanted my life to go and what career path was going to get me there.”

Carew surprised scholarship winners Wednesday night with a gift: their choice of books by a pair of top authors on financial wellbeing.

Theresa Liska, student speaker in her second year at Fond du Lac, spoke about her decision to come to the campus—as her older brother and sister had. She talked about her shy nature and being drawn to a smaller school size. She said the school had courses of great interest to her and she connected with a supportive adviser. A third reason to attend, she said, was the heartwarming kindness of donors who provide financial support.

“The best part of this is that it’s not only us, the students that are being affected by a donor’s generosity, but also our loved ones,” Liska said.

She said students can feel collectively blessed for all the opportunities and lessons that are now able to come their way.

“By receiving a scholarship tonight, it means that we each have at least one person that believes us to be competent in whatever we set our minds to do,” she concluded. “And it’s honestly the greatest feeling of all knowing that you are capable of achieving and that others think so as well.”

Jerry Donohue, president of the UW-Fond du Lac Foundation, told the crowd about the way his oldest son experienced joy in learning at UW-Fond du Lac—something the family did not anticipate due to his son Jeremaih’s significant hearing deficit. Donohue’s son went on to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degrees—something that was made possible by his start at UW-Fond du Lac.

Martin Rudd, assistant vice chancellor for access campuses, said the Fond du Lac campus is “extraordinarily well-equipped” to provide students the tools they need to succeed in their academic goals in Fond du Lac and beyond—with the help of well-qualified professors, nurturing and dedicated staff and programs.

“Donors of scholarships to UW-Fond du Lac Foundation make a choice to help a student coming from one of our vibrant communities and provide them with a financial gift toward their tuition,” Rudd said.

UW Oshkosh Chancellor Andrew Leavitt said hardly a day goes by that he doesn’t hear stories that highlight and honor graduates of the the Fond du Lac campus. He said there is “extraordinary return on investment” for those who support UW Oshkosh students.

Barbara Senn, Foundation executive director, was appreciative of donors and student families in attendance.

“It’s important that our students know that they have our support,” she said.

A major scholarship fundraising event, UW Oshkosh, Fond du Lac campus’ Corks & Forks, will be “all things Irish,” according to Senn, and is slated for Thursday, March 26, 2020.

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