Category Archives: Rotary Scholars

Rotary Scholars and Their Mentors Get to Know Each Other –Picnic Style

submitted by Sharyn Alden; photos by Dean Nelson & Karl Wellensiek


The sun shined brightly July 1st, after a tornado watch lifted, on one of Rotary’s most festive traditions –the annual Rotary Scholar Mentor Picnic held lakeside at the home of Ed and Nancy Young.

There were multiple tables of picnic food choices –segmented further by categories. There were appetizers and salads, a lively grilling station with brats and burgers fresh off the grill, and a dessert table laden with cakes, cookies and luscious chocolate delights.


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Beyond the good eats and boat rides, and overall festive atmosphere, what most of us came for was this exceptional opportunity to get to know each other better.

Melanie Ramey, former President of Rotary (1998-1999), a five-time mentor to Rotary scholars, is currently a mentor to Matida Bojang.  Ramey said, “The annual picnic provides a great opportunity for scholars to become better acquainted with their mentors and also meet other scholars with similar academic or cultural backgrounds.”

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This was the second Rotary Scholar Mentor Picnic for Eddie Larson, whose mentor is Majid Sarmadi. Larson, who will be a junior this fall majoring in actuarial science at UW-Madison, said, “Rotary as an organization offers many excellent networking opportunities. But the annual picnic brings together people of so many diverse backgrounds, it’s a terrific venue for meeting and making new friends.”

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Seated at a picnic table, gazing out at Lake Monona, first-time picnic attendee, and scholar, Cassie Ferguson plans to major in early childhood education because she said teachers, from elementary grades through high school had a strong impact on her life. “I want to give back,” she said simply while enjoying the view of the Capitol in the distance.

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Conversations like this, at a casual picnic with no specific agenda other than to enjoy yourself, can be stepping stones to planting seeds for life-long friendships between scholars and mentors.

Our thanks to Ed and Nancy Young for hosting this year’s 2018 Scholar Mentor Picnic; to “Picnic Planner” Dean Nelson; Scholar Mentor Committee Co-Chairs Rob Van den Berg & Cheryl Wittke & Chair Emeritus Ellie Schatz and to members of our Kitchen Committee for working their magic at the grill.  The event was a great success! 



Making Dreams Come True–Rotary Scholar Event

–submitted by Mary Thompson; photos by Dennis Cooley

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Photo 1: from left, Jose Rodriguez, Mary Thompson, Cynthia Maduka & Liliana Teniente; Photo 2: from left: Ryia Steps, Moses Altsech, Brett Stratton, Jason Beren & Teresa Holmes

With record attendance, over 60 Rotary Scholars and Mentors joined the Winter Mixer event on January 3, 2018.  While mentors and scholars swapped stories, I wanted to learn how the Rotary Scholar/Mentor program had influenced them.

The importance of relationships was the overarching theme.   Melanie Ramey’s scholar, Matida Bojang (UW–Milwaukee Pre-Pharmacy) shared that this program is making her dreams come true.  Ryia Steps (Alcorn State Psychology)  connected on many levels with her mentor, Teresa Holmes.  They love coffee and talk about everything.  Jose Rodriguez (UW Madison Psychology) has forged a relationship with Rob Van den Berg; Liliana Teniente’s (UW Madison Biology) mentor, Dennis Cooley gave her books to read such as “Grit–a Story in Perseverance.”  Donna Beestman’s scholar, Reyna Groff (UW Madison Art) shared she enjoys meeting with someone outside of school.   Rahim Ansari (UW Madison Chemical Engineering) met his mentor, Stan Kitson, through Memorial High School’s Interact program.  Stan commented that he can’t wait to see where he goes!  And my scholar, Cynthia Maduka (UW Milwaukee Communications) has been introduced to a Milwaukee newscaster to further Cynthia’s career in broadcasting.

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Photo 1: Dom Petty & Stacy Nemeth; Photo 2: from left: Leen Bnyat, Melanie Ramey, Matida Bojang, Hannah Kwiatkowski & Sarah Best

The highlight of the program occurred when co-chairs Cheryl Wittke and Ellie Schatz called for introductions.  It was an impressive group of scholars ranging in majors from STEM to the liberal arts and everything in between.  Teresita Torrence from Madison College explained the resources available to students in their student development center.  Bob Shumaker reminded everyone to follow the Madison Rotary Mentor-Scholar Facebook (FB) page; Linda Baldwin offered $10 tickets to the Overture Center for the Arts by signing up through the Club 10 link on the FB page; and Dean Nelson announced the Summer Picnic on July 1.

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Photo 1: from left: Becky Steinhoff, Jana Hvorat & Joy Gander; Photo 2: from left: Tenzin Kunsel, Jim Christensen, Eddie Larson & Majid Sarmadi

The group adjourned to the Rotary meeting for more conversation and Charlie Sykes’ presentation.

For more photos, visit our Madison Rotary Mentor-Scholar Group on Facebook.

Our Madison Rotary Foundation awards college scholarship assistance to 25 students per year to assist them during their four years of college, so we have 100 scholars in college each year.  Nearly all of our scholars are connected to a Rotary member who serves as a mentor during their college years.  Since many students are on break this week, we invited scholars to attend our Rotary luncheon on January 3.  It was a great opportunity to check-in with our scholars, and they had a chance to connect with their Rotary mentors.  We enjoyed hosting our scholars and wish them all the best as they head back to college later this month.  Our thanks to Dean Nelson, Ellie Schatz and Cheryl Wittke for organizing this gathering of scholars and mentors just before our Rotary luncheon.

2017 Scholar Mentor Picnic

–submitted by Mary Borland; photos by Dean Nelson & Karl Wellensiek

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The annual Rotary Scholar Mentor picnic was held on Sunday, June 25, from 3 – 6 p.m. at the home of Nancy and Ed Young in Monona.  Thank you, Nancy and Ed!

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Despite fall like weather, all enjoyed camaraderie and wonderful appetizers, salads, brats, hamburgers and desserts.

DSC_0109After we enjoyed dinner, many participated in a first time workshop on finances and financial literacy.  Our club member, Richard Entenmann presented and answered questions.  Richard works for Asset Builders, a nonprofit that conducts training and camps on this important subject.

Visit our Club’s Facebook page for more photos: search “Rotary Club of Madison.”  Or, if you are a member of our club’s Scholar Mentor Committee: search “Madison Rotary Mentor-Scholar Group.”



2016 Mentor Scholar Winter Mixer Highlights

–submitted by Janet Piraino; photos by Mike Engelberger


Rotary scholars and their mentors got to enjoy some fun and games at the Mentor-Scholar Mixer at the Hilton before our noon lunch on January 6.  We were prompted to get to know each other a little better by finding people in the room who matched the descriptions on our Mentor-Scholar Bingo sheet.  As a result, we now know who helped their scholar find a job and who likes Caesar salad!

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Jacqui Sakowski shared the importance of offering internships to our scholars, to ensure they have the opportunity to put the their education to use.  We heard a moving story from one of our senior scholars whose internship is helping launch a career in women’s health.  Ellie Schatz handed out applications for the new Kay Family Scholarship Fund  designed to help students who need financial help beyond eight semesters to finish their degrees.

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It was incredibly inspiring to be in a room filled with the next generation of leaders…and the people who are willing to do whatever it takes to help them overcome their challenges and reach their goals.  It made me proud to be a Downtown Rotarian!


We Believe…

–submitted by Linda Baldwin; photos by Mike Engelberger

Rotary scholars start their journey by asking us to believe in their abilities and to invest in their future. The scholars who spoke with us today illustrated how that belief and investment has paid off …one hundred fold.

Seven scholars shared their dreams and hopes and their gratitude to the club and to their mentors for helping to make those dreams come true. Amazing stories of what they would do were told…all knowing that their educational dreams would not have been possible without a Rotary scholarship.

Brandon Alvarez CarreraBrandon Alvarez Carrera (Levy Scholar), the first of his family to attend college, hopes to prove to his family and the community, that his background wasn’t correlated to his academic success. On a path to a degree in Engineering Physics, he’s grateful for the support group that helps him on his journey.


Shamell HomeslyShamell Homesly (Brandenburg Scholar) shared that the excitement she felt when notified of her Rotary scholarship was breath taking. Shamell is studying to be an elementary teacher at Madison College and will transfer to a four year university after completing her associates degree. Destined to be a teacher, Schamell thanks club members…”everyone of you has helped put me on a path toward success.”

Cristian Claudio TeutliCristian Claudio Teutli (Levy Scholar) is proud to be a Badger and is grateful to Rotary for making it possible for him to attend UW. What motivates him to push through the challenges is his dream for the day when he can say, “Mama, Papa, I made it. And I don’t want to hear you say that money is an issue anymore.”


Lilly GonzalezAzucena (Lilly) Gonzalez (McBeath Scholar) is proud to say she will be part of the 2016 graduation class at UW-Whitewater with a major in Social Work and a minor in Criminology. Lilly says that she was blessed with financial help from Rotary and an amazing mentor, Mary Rouse who boosted her confidence all the way. Also, she thanked the Kay family for their scholarship to help with summer school.

Karen Bauer
Karen Bauer
(Synergy Scholar) will graduate in May with a degree in Anthropology and English and a minor in Spanish. She hopes to get her PHD. Karen is especially thankful for the support of the club and her mentor, Dick Lovell.

Patrick RoyPatrick Roy
(French Scholar) says he was one of those guys who you would never imagine working as a Chicago banker.  He credits his mentor, Moses Altsech, for providing him with guidance to stay in school and he will graduate from UWM Summa Cum Laude this year and take the Chicago banking job.

Kay PowellKay Powell (French Scholar) (via video) thanks Dr. John Bonsett-Veal for being a very important part of her live. She’s graduated from UW-Madison and is working on a graduate degree in Optometry. Kay encourages Rotarians to be mentors.

In May, a new group of students will need a mentor. Please consider jumping in to this satisfying role.

(CLICK to watch the video presentation by our Rotary Scholars)

We want to thank our donors who made these scholarships possible:  Nate Brand, Heggie Brandenburg, Harry French, Dick Goldberg, Perry & Virginia Henderson, Louie Hirsig, Tom Leonard, Irving & Dorothy Levy Family, Andy McBeath, Regina Millner, Mike & Patty Wilson, Worzala Family.  In addition, we have our Synergy Fund which is a fund available to all members who are interested in making a gift to our Scholarship Program.  We also thank Lori and Arlan Kay for the new fund they established to provide one-time grants to our Rotary scholars.

Kay Family Scholar Introduced at January 6 Luncheon

Kay Scholar Photo

Back row from left: Mary Rouse, Arlan Kay & Isaac Gonzalez (Lilly’s father); Front row from left: Lori Kay & Lilly Gonzalez

In 2015, Lori and Arlan Kay provided a $50,000 gift to our Madison Rotary Foundation to establish the Kay Family Scholarship Fund.  Lori has been a member of our Rotary Club since 1987, and Arlan has been a member of the Oregon Rotary Club for over 40 years.  This fund provides one-time grants to current Rotary scholars who need funding for educational expenses beyond the eight semesters of scholarship payments they are receiving through our scholarship program.  This year’s recipient of the Kay Family Scholarship grant was Lilly Gonzalez, and she was introduced during our January 6th Rotary luncheon.  Lilly attends the UW-Whitewater and was able to take summer courses towards her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work with an emphasis in Criminology with this grant provide by the Kay Family Scholarship Fund.  Thank you to Lori and Arlan Kay for making this grant possible for our Rotary scholar.

Annual Madison Rotary Foundation Scholarship Program on May 27, 2015


The Madison Rotary Foundation has awarded college scholarships totaling $280,000 to 24 graduates from Madison area high schools, and we honored the students, along with their guests, at our May 27 luncheon.

Students who received these scholarships are listed below by donor scholarship fund:

Nathan F. Brand Scholar: Riley Boyce
Frederic S. Brandenberg Scholar: Jariah James
Harry L. French Scholars: Sophia Chadli, Andrew Jiang, Kristjana Hrovat & Drake Singleton
Dick Goldberg Scholar: Alyssa Ivy
Perry & Virginia Henderson Scholar: Michael Brown
Louis Hirsig Scholar: Oliva Combs
Thomas Leonard Scholar: Kaleb Beining
Irving & Dorothy Levy Family Scholars: Brandon Alvarez-Carrera, Aminata Bojang, Katherine Casey, Elizabeth Doty, Lena Lee, Susan Mwai, Joshua Phillips & Paige Talerico
Andrew A. McBeath Scholars: Olive Earley & Andrea Zavala
Regina M. Millner Scholar: Lucy Ji
Synergy Scholar: Taylor Westfall-McCoy
Worzala Family Scholar: Tenzin Kunsel
Wilson Two-Year Scholar: Deaven Carney Wiedmer

Our Madison Rotary Foundation Scholarship Committee annually selects students from each high school in accordance with the wishes of the donors.  The chosen applicants are students with high academic standing and with character and leadership ability who have made contributions to their schools and communities and have financial need.

This year’s group of scholars had the benefit of hearing from a past recipient, Kristy Juno, who received Frederic Brandenburg scholarship in 2009.

The Rotary Club of Madison and the Madison Rotary Foundation wish to thank the members of the Scholarship Committee for their hard work in selecting this year’s recipients: Bob Shumaker (chair), Donna Hurd, Robyn Kitson, Oscar Mireles, Tom Popp, Ellie Schatz, Wes Sparkman, and Cheryl Weston.  We also thank Rotarians who will be serving as mentors to these scholars during their upcoming college years.

We appreciate the efforts of our photographer John Bonsett-Veal who provided us with a group photo of this year’s recipients.

As always, the awards program is a motivation for all Rotarians to provide financial resources for the Madison Rotary Foundation Scholarship Program.

Our congratulations to the 24 students receiving this year’s scholarships and best wishes for success in their college careers!