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Breaking Barriers: this Honors Student Is Pushing for More Diversity

| Rosa Gomez

Leaving a legacy that extends past your own personal scope is a large aspect of the Ryan Prechel Scholarship, which is awarded to students who are dedicated to leadership and serving their community.

It was created in honor of Ryan Prechel, a Blugold alum who was deeply involved in the Honors Program and a leader across campus. To support student leadership, the scholarship also includes a donation to an organization or department chosen by the student recipient.

Grace Olson, the 2022 recipient, exemplifies the community-centered drive that motivated Ryan Prechel. As a third-year student, she is pursuing accounting and information systems with a certificate in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

As the president of the Student Accounting Society (SAS), she is proud to say that for the first time in UW-Eau Claire history, SAS has an all-woman executive board.

She wrote in her application essay that being surrounded by women leadership is one of the many factors that led her to donate to the EDI certificate program.

“Women can still be powerful in business, even in a male-dominated field,” she said.

Olson emphasized how important EDI is in the ever-developing society we live in; expanding the certificate program allows for more diversity and enables more people to take advantage of this opportunity.

From a business perspective, she said being a part of the Honors Program in combination with pursuing the EDI certificate “has expanded the horizons of my network.” In Honors, Olson also worked as a student orientation intern, helping to make a diverse group of entering first-year students feel at home on campus and in the Honors Program.

In addition to her role as president of SAS, she is also the co-director of the College of Business Student Advisory Council (COBSAC) where she is responsible for overseeing the College of Business organizations.

Her broadened networks and perspectives have allowed her to push for a more interdisciplinary approach to her directorship.

She said in this capacity, she is a “stepping stone” between students, faculty and employers outside of the UW-Eau Claire network. She encourages the students she works with to diversify their prospective employers and connections to allow them to have a more expansive approach outside of their discipline.

Beyond Olson’s success within SAS and COBSAC, she is also breaking barriers as a first-generation student. A major motivating factor in her higher-education journey has been the prospect of being able to accomplish great things.

“You can take nothing and turn it into something and still be a leader within your community at the school,” Olson said.

Olson is proving to be a leader in and out of the classroom. She said that she always recommends the EDI certificate within her communities; it is a resume builder, but Olson really emphasized how much you learn.

She said that being able to take what she’s learned from a more diverse group of people and bring it back to her communities at home-–to teach other people what she has learned–-has been an encouraging component of the EDI certificate.  

Her continued accomplishments and persistent drive prove that she is the perfect recipient for the Prechel scholarship.