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UWFox Women Awarded 'Athena Scholarship'

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Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, must be smiling and proud…to see her name attached to the recognition of two outstanding local college students. Laura Londre and Kristina Sawyer were named the co-recipients of the 2004 Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s “Athena Scholarship” during that organization’s annual meeting held in Appleton in October. Londre, a Hortonville resident, and Sawyer, who resides in Winnecone, are both students enrolled in the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley / University of Wisconsin-Platteville Mechanical Engineering Collaborative Degree program, which is offered at the UWFox campus in Menasha.

The Athena Scholarship was begun by a group of Fox Cities’ business women who have been presented with the “Athena Award” by the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce. The women recognized with the annual Fox Cities Athena Award have been recognized for their business leadership skills and commitment to community involvement.

These Athena winners collectively worked together to develop and offer a scholarship opportunity to other business women who are working to complete their college education. While the group’s original intent was to award at least one scholarship each year to a Fox Valley working woman who is enrolled in a degree program at a local university or technical college, the simultaneous recognition of Londre and Sawyer was received with enthusiasm and deep appreciation by the recipients.

“I first heard about the scholarship through Cathy [Bronold, the UW-Platteville M.E. program coordinator on the UWFox campus],” according to Londre, who’s a third year student in the program. “While I usually don’t apply for scholarships, this one just seemed to fit me. I’ve been working since I was 17. I took a couple of years off when my daughter was born, and during that time I returned to school to earn an Associate’s Degree.” Londre then began taking mechanical engineering classes through the Milwaukee School of Engineering when it offered classes in the Fox Cities through a program that eventually was phased out several years ago. When UWFox / UW-Platteville began offering the engineering program at the Menasha campus, it was a great opportunity for her to work toward completion of her degree.

Sawyer (Left) and LondreSawyer, who’ll be a fourth year student in the program in January 2005, also first heard about the scholarship opportunity through Bronold. When first told about the opportunity, “I did a little investigating about the Athena Award winners and found that they were recipients of the award because of their outstanding leadership and business roles. I’m really proud to have been chosen, because I feel that they [the judges] were looking for those same types of characteristics for the scholarship winners.”

“Recognition along the way is very important to students who balance so much in their lives, especially work and family, while attending school. I'm extremely proud to have students like Laura and Kristina representing the UW-Platteville Fox Valley Engineering program as Athena Award Scholarship winners,” said Bronold.

The judges use rigorous criteria to evaluate the scholarship applicants and make their selections based on academic record, personal character, and the stated desire for further education.

The student/applicant must be a resident of the Fox Valley who has graduated from high school, or is presently employed by a Fox Cities company and is enrolled in a local university or technical college. The applicant must also plan on attending college during the 2004-2005 academic year and be enrolled for a minimum of six credits. Additionally, the course work must be targeted towards a degree and not just for personal achievement.

The scholarship monies can only be applied toward tuition payments, according to the scholarship guidelines. The applicant must also submit an essay that relates why she is applying, an outline of personal education and career plans, and why she feels deserving of the scholarship.

Transcripts from previous high school and college work needed to be submitted, including cumulative GPA. Two letters of recommendation were also required.

“I was surprised when I found out I was selected,” Sawyer said. “I was very excited and happy. I found out on the Friday before the Tuesday presentation.”

Londre found out about her selection when her husband told her, as he had taken the congratulatory phone call earlier in the day. “When I got home from school and he told me, he was just as excited as I was. Without his support I don’t think I would have stuck with it through all of the setbacks I’ve had. I was very appreciative that the hard work I’d put in was recognized.

“I learned a lot about the Athena Award and the scholarship,” Londre said. “I am very proud to be a part of it. I see in both work and school that women are still not to the levels of men. Because it takes time to move up in a business, I am hoping that in time, women will have higher and more important positions. There are very few women in the engineering program at UWFox and I was the only woman in the MSOE-Fox Valley program. So, I’m starting to see that more women are getting involved in engineering.”

For more information about the UWFox / UW-Platteville Mechanical Engineering Collaborative Degree program, Cathy Bronold can be reached at 920-832-2854 or via email cbronold@uwc.edu. Information about the Athena Scholarship program can be obtained from the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce, 920-734-7161.

The University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley is one of the 13 two-year campuses that comprise the UW Colleges and the University of Wisconsin-Platteville is one of the 13 comprehensive baccalaureate and graduate universities. Both campuses are part of the UW System.

Posted 11/22/2004