New scholarship encourages local students to choose UW-Eau Claire

| Julie Poquette

For Eau Claire native Christian Dooley, his UW-Eau Claire education and a local internship led to a job in his hometown after graduation.

That’s a win-win for Dooley and for the Chippewa Valley: Dooley gets to work at a job he loves (as a senior technical account manager at JAMF software) while living near family in a city he also loves. The Chippewa Valley keeps a salary-earning resident who is well-prepared to contribute to the community for years to come.

Soon, through a new UW-Eau Claire initiative in collaboration with the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, college-bound students from the Chippewa Valley will have an incentive to follow in Dooley’s footsteps, making UW-Eau Claire their college of choice and increasing the odds they’ll stay in the region following graduation.

Beginning in fall 2017, qualifying incoming freshmen at UW-Eau Claire who graduate from area high schools within a 30-mile radius of the university will automatically receive the Local Blugold Scholarship, a $6,000 award. Home-schooled students who live in the area also can qualify.

The UW-Eau Claire Foundation is raising financial support from the local community to support the new scholarship.

“I can’t think of a better opportunity for helping area students to ‘stay close and go far,’ as we like to say,” says UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt.

UW-Eau Claire students have unique learning opportunities, Schmidt says, noting that in addition to giving them an outstanding education in the classroom, UW-Eau Claire strives to provide all students with transformational learning experiences like internships, cultural immersion, service-learning and undergraduate research.

“By donating to the Local Blugold Scholarship, businesses and individuals will make these life-changing experiences more affordable for local students,” Schmidt says. “Plus, these gifts will be supporting donors’ friends, families and neighbors, all while ultimately strengthening our community.”

The Local Blugold Scholarship will be a strong incentive for local families to come for a campus visit and check out what UW-Eau Claire has to offer, says Heather Kretz, UW-Eau Claire’s director of admissions.

“Local students looking at UW-Eau Claire is a particular challenge, because they think it's a campus they already know,” Kretz says.

Often, a campus visit leads area students to become Blugolds.

"We have a special enough place that local students find, 'Oh, it's the campus in my backyard and it's an amazing campus and opportunity,'" Kretz says.

Local Blugold Scholarship recipients will receive $1,500 their first year and for up to three additional years if they maintain at least a 3.25 GPA. Qualifying incoming freshmen must have an ACT score of at least 25 (or the SAT equivalent) and be in the top 25 percent of their class (or have a 3.5 GPA if their class is unranked) at one of the listed eligible high schools.

Rudy Pereira, chief executive officer of Eau Claire-based Royal Credit Union, says approximately 70 UW-Eau Claire graduates work for his organization.

“I’m just extremely impressed with every one of them — their maturity, their knowledge, their sense of responsibility,” Pereira says. “We hire Blugolds because they’re just top-notch.”

The Local Blugold Scholarship will help ensure that more high-achieving students from the area will benefit from the Blugold experience, Pereria says.

“They would be coming to a great university and they would receive a $6,000-over-four-years scholarship — to me it’s just adding to a great opportunity to stay local. “

For Dooley, a 2014 information systems graduate, attending UW-Eau Claire was appealing both because of the university’s strong business programs and because it allowed him to stay close to family, help with his family’s local business and enjoy what he calls the “not-so-big-city-but-still-big-enough feel of Eau Claire.”

“UW-Eau Claire is very effective in preparing young professionals to build a résumé and prepare for interviews and behave professionally,” Dooley says. “Also, the strong partnerships between UW-Eau Claire and businesses like JAMF Software, and having so many graduates employed in these area businesses, helped me leverage my skills to get the interview and internship, and ultimately, the job.”

For more information about Local Blugold Scholarship eligibility criteria, contact Danielle Widmer at widmerds@uwec.edu or 715-836-5409.

For more information about donating to the Local Blugold Scholarship Fund, visit uwec.ly/donatelocal

Photo cutline: For Christian Dooley, a 2014 UW-Eau Claire information systems graduate and Eau Claire native, attending college in his hometown allowed him to benefit from UW-Eau Claire's strong business programs while staying in a city he loves where he could help with his family's business. His UW-Eau Claire experience led to his landing both an internship as a student and a job following graduation.