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UW-Eau Claire Single Parents and Campus Autism Program to Benefit from $50,000 Gift

RELEASED: April 14, 2006

UW-Eau Claire student working with the Campus Autism Program
UW-Eau Claire student Nick Vanselow works with a young client in UW-Eau Claire's Campus Autism Program. A recent grant from the A.H. Zeppa Foundation will support CAP internships as well as provide funding for single-parent students. (UW-Eau Claire CAP photo)

EAU CLAIRE — A recently established Duluth area family foundation has designated the UW-Eau Claire Foundation as one of its early beneficiaries. A $50,000 grant from the A.H. Zeppa Family Foundation will help single parent students and the UW-Eau Claire Campus Autism Program.

The grant was facilitated by Jennifer Jean Solin, a member of the Zeppa family who received her undergraduate degree in psychology from UW-Eau Claire. Solin says the gift reflects the mission of the A.H. Zeppa Foundation and is possible only because of the efforts of her family. The foundation was established with a significant bequest received after the death of her grandfather.

As a single-parent student, Solin experienced firsthand how difficult it can be to succeed as a full-time student while being a full-time parent.

"I know that without the financial support of my family, I would not have been able to complete my undergraduate degree," Solin said. "I wanted to help other single parents achieve their dreams of obtaining a college degree."

The gift, which is recognized as a contribution to Fulfilling the Promise of Excellence, the UW-Eau Claire Foundation's ongoing comprehensive campaign to benefit UW-Eau Claire's people and programs, will provide $1,000 scholarships to single-parent students with financial need. Additionally the fund will provide these scholarship recipients with internship grants of up to $2,000.

"Internships provide a priceless experience that every student should try at least once," Solin said. "It will aid in their classroom performance and add something to a student's resume that can be helpful when applying for jobs or graduate school."

This is the only program at UW-Eau Claire that combines scholarships for single-parent students and internship funding.

"Internships are becoming even more critical to students who hope to make a successful transition from the classroom to a career," said Jeanne Skoug, Career Services director. "In addition to the career-related benefits, the Zeppa Foundation gift provides immediate help to students by providing funding while they are participating in an internship. For those single-parent students, who are balancing academic and parent responsibilities, these funds will be incredibly helpful to their success as students as well as in their future careers."

While she was a student, Solin benefited from an internship with the Campus Autism Program. Because of that experience, she specified that $10,000 of the $50,000 gift be used to fund student internships with the CAP program, directed by Dr. Kevin Klatt, an assistant professor of psychology.

"While working as a student-intern therapist, I had firsthand experience using behavioral therapy with young autistic children from our community," Solin said. "Working with these children helped give me a better understanding of what this disability truly entails."

As a program coordinator/personal care worker for REM III of Wisconsin Inc., Solin continues to work with individuals suffering from autism, brain injuries and other related disabilities. Through her work, she sees how valuable programs like the Campus Autism Program can be.

"Sometimes an autistic child can become indistinguishable from his or her peers if there is an early diagnosis and the child goes through therapy such as the Campus Autism Program provides," Solin said.

Her work with the Campus Autism Program also helped direct her career, Solin said. She plans to attend Argosy University this fall as a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology, and she plans to study autism and other neurological/psychological disorders, with the hope of finding a causative factor that could help to treat and possibly prevent these disorders.

Keir Johnson, director of the A.H. Zeppa Foundation, said the gift fits well with the family foundation's mission.

"This gift to the UW-Eau Claire Foundation furthers the Zeppa Foundation's goal of supporting the creation of educational opportunities in the arts and social sciences," Johnson said.

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KH

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