Photo caption: Hope Wachholz wins Prechel Honors Scholarship
“I was really drawn to the awesome community here when I toured,” fourth-year student Hope Wachholz said. “Honors really validated that. There is a wonderful community here.”
Wachholz is the 2021 recipient of the Ryan Prechel Scholarship. The scholarship, established for students who are passionate about service and leadership, is in recognition of Blugold alum Ryan Prechel. As a part of the scholarship, a grant is awarded to a student organization, department, or program of the recipient's choosing.
Prechel—a 2005 graduate—was a dedicated Honors student. He exhibited many leadership qualities through his involvement in the Honors Program, research, and volunteer work. His legacy lives on in the most current recipient and where she decided to donate the funds.
Wachholz, studying Spanish Education and Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD), dove right into the community at UW-Eau Claire.
She said that choosing her majors was an easy decision after her courses really fueled her interest and passion. “I declared the Spanish Education major at the beginning of my time at UW-Eau Claire,” she said. “I was originally going to minor in Spanish, but I loved my Spanish classes so much, I decided to do a major instead.” She decided to pursue Communication Sciences and Disorders later, after completing courses for her minor: Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages.
In the 2019-20 school year, she served as the co-director of education for the Honors Student Steering Committee (HSSC). She was responsible for attending Honors Council meetings and Curriculum Committee meetings, helping other Blugolds get the same education that she has appreciated.
Wachholz currently serves as co-president of the HSSC. She works with other Honors students, professors who teach honors courses, and the Program director, Dr. Fielding.
Wachholz said her involvement in Honors helped her grow professionally and to also create her own community. “[Honors] enhanced my experience at the university,” she said. “It really gave me great opportunities to work with people and make new friends with people outside of my major.”
This opportunity has allowed her to pursue language studies outside of the classroom. She recalled how a portion of her scholarship application essay was about her experience in the Honors course “Community-Based Spanish,” taught by Dr. Carter Smith. She said she was able to learn more about Spanish in a real-world setting and was thankful that the Honors Program gives students this kind of opportunity.
Her experience within the Spanish department extends beyond a traditional education setting as she became involved in the Latinx Student Association (LSA), the organization she would later give the grant money to. In Fall of 2019, she attended LSA’s Lotería event and was quickly committed to becoming a member of this organization. She went from just being a part of the email list, to the organization's secretary.
“They’re an organization I was involved in that I really appreciated,” she said. “I just really appreciated how much they worked throughout the entire year, with pretty limited funds.” She said that because of this positive experience, and because of the dedication she saw in their work, she wanted to contribute to them.
Wachholz said she hopes to be a Spanish teacher after graduation, with the hopes of eventually becoming a bilingual speech pathologist. Her dedication to helping others and willingness to get involved in the community will surely take her far.