Dear Donor,
Each spring, the Western Foundation holds a scholarship reception that honors and recognizes both recipients and donors. At this event, Western's student ambassador addresses the attendees. The student ambassador for the 2007-08 school year was Gulshat Sharipova, a first-year nursing student. Her speech demonstrates the power your donation has. We feel it perfectly addresses the sentiment felt by all of our scholarship recipients.

Good evening ladies and gentlemen!
I am so happy to be here and represent the students who received a scholarship. I was looking forward to this moment ever since I received my first scholarship last August. I immediately mailed thank you notes, but I felt like it was not enough. My heart was filled with gratitude and I just wanted to meet those generous donors in person. I wanted to hug them, look them in the eyes, and tell them how much I appreciate their support. Now, I have this opportunity. On behalf of all students, I say thank you very much for your donations and your desire to support students!

It is indeed an honor for me to be here and speak before you. I feel very lucky to have this opportunity to share my story. I came to the USA three and a half years ago, and immediately enrolled myself in English as a Second Language Class because I didn't speak English well. It was a hard time for me. English is not an easy language to learn and there were times when I thought, "I am never going to learn English. It is just too hard!" Nevertheless, I persevered. I did my best. The ver y next semester I took my first class with regular American students. I didn't know if I would be able to do well. I was worried. It took me three times longer to do my homework in English as it did in Russian because I had to use a dictionary constantly in order to understand the content. Despite all the trials and tribulations, I finished the class with an A grade and the highest percentage in the class. I said to myself: "Wow, I can do it! I should just choose a major and go to school and learn more!"

That is when I became one of those people who had a strong desire to go to school, but could not really afford it. I started anyway. I went f rom semester to semester. I thought: "Well, I paid off this semester; now I have to think how I can pay my next semester." Once I became eligible for a scholarship, I applied right away. I was so fortunate to receive a scholarship last semester and this semester. It is a great support. It helped me to concentrate on my studying rather than worrying about my financial situation. Because of your support, I am in my second semester of the Nursing-Associate Degree program with a 4.0 GPA.

When you donate money for scholarships, you show students that you believe in us. You invest money in us, and it feels great to know that somebody believes in our success. That makes me strive for more. It is like you say : "Yes, I believe in this person. Yes, I believe she can go to school, graduate, and support this community by staying and working here."

Also, by being a donor, you set a positive example for us. You support the community with your donations. When I receive this support, I want to give it back. I want to support people in need using my resources, so I volunteer at Gundersen Lutheran, and I initiate many service projects here on campus.

These scholarships affected my life and the lives of other students in a wonderful way-not only for one semester, but for a lifetime. When I graduate and work as an RN locally, I will remember people who made it possible for me to finish college. These memories and the appreciation I have will always be in my heart. I am here today to encourage you to continue to support students. You do change our lives for better. You do make a great difference in the community, and you are an amazing inspiration for young people. From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of all Western students, thank you for your generous donations!

Learning and Serving at Western

Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund, once said service is what life's all about. For students engaged in service learning at Western, they know that's true. They also know that there's more to service learning than just the act of volunteering.

Service learning is a method of instruction that provides students an opportunity to apply what they are learning in the classroom to the real-world as they work to meet an identified community need. Service-learning differs from volunteering in that the community project that students are involved in directly relates to what the students are learning in the classroom, with an opportunity for students to reflect on their experience.

When Western began service learning in 2003, there were 3 faculty and 68 students involved in service learning. In 2008, there were 780 students, under the direction of 43 faculty members, who worked in partnership with 75 community agencies to provide 29,660 hours of service. These hours represent an excellent learning experience for students, and provided the community with the equivalent of the work hours provided by 13 full-time employees. In addition, according to the Independent Sector (www.independentsector.org), the estimated value of these hours of service is $578,666.

Brandee Ortery, Supervisory Management instructor at the Tomah Regional Learning Center, and 20 of her Human Resource Management course students held a mock interview event in April 2009. They helped 18 people who had been recently laid off. Students served as interviewers (a skill they learned as part of the competencies of this course) and community members were invited to attend the event, free of charge, and practice being interviewed. Students reviewed résumés and gave feedback to those who brought them. Students also created a brochure highlighting some tips and guidelines for résumé writing, job searching, and interviewing that was then passed out at the event.

Chris Krueger, Occupational Therapy Assistant instructor in La Crosse, and nine students in the Geriatric Practice course, partnered with Innovations Rehabilitation in Sparta to conduct a Car Fit event in September. Car Fit is a collaboration between AARP, AAA and the AOTA (American Occupational Therapy Association). Polly Berra, an OT at Innovations, is certified in CarFit and invited the students to participate. The students spent the day getting training and then assisting with actual car checks. The checks are designed to help elders in the community with safety and proper positioning when driving; measurements and observations are made, along with recommendations for adjustments and assistive devices to improve the fit of their car.