Scholarship winners ready for life’s next chapter
The career aspirations of students receiving Rock Energy Cooperative Scholarships this year include biomedical engineer, broadcaster, chiropractor, dietitian, doctor, nurse, occupational therapist, pediatrician, personal trainer, and pharmacist. The students all possess the qualities that will help them succeed in their college studies as well as in their future professions.
They have participated in dozens of school clubs, competed in sports, performed in band and choir, worked on 4-H projects, and joined church groups. Even with all those extra-curricular activities, they still found time to volunteer with community organizations and work to help fund their college educations.
A committee of co-op members met in February to select 10 graduating seniors from our service territory to receive $500 scholarships. Ask any of them, and they’ll tell you it isn’t an easy task. A total of 48 students submitted applications this year.
Since 1989, Rock Energy has awarded $107,000 in financial aid to deserving students. Funds for the scholarships come from unclaimed capital credits.
Here’s a brief introduction to the winners:
Katie Chesebro, Milton High School, plans to pursue a career in sports news broadcasting, communications, or business at UW-Madison. She would like to intern as a broadcaster with the Big Ten Network and other news stations in the area.
“If I cannot find any special internships, then I will focus on communications as a whole and go into a career involving public speaking, organization, and a job that lets me get out and meet new people,” Katie said. “I enjoy public speaking, so every chance I get I like to read scripture for church or talk in front of my peers.”
Katie’s volunteer activities include distributing food to those in need through the Second Harvest Food Bank, helping out at the Milton Youth Basketball concession stands to raise money for the program, and serving as a Shepherd for the Youth program at her church.
“I also have been involved in many extracurricular activities throughout my high school career while maintaining good grades, attending sporting events to cheer on my classmates, and keeping a steady job on top of everything,” she said. “I have been able to form skills including time management, organization, and communication skills that I plan to continue to grow throughout my life and will help me as I pursue further education and search for a career.”
Brooke Gardner, Hononegah High School, wants to major in exercise science and minor in business. “I plan to become a personal trainer and coach people to become the best versions of themselves for the life they want to live,” she said. “When the time comes, it is my long-term goal to open a gym that people can train at and use to become stronger, leaner, or whatever it is they want to achieve.”
Brooke represented Rock Energy on the 2018 Youth Tour to Washington. “I learned so much in this weeklong trip to D.C.,” she said. “I was able to make memories with new friends and tour the capital of our country. Not only did I learn so much about our country and its history, but also about our co-op and the way it runs.”
She volunteers with the Northern Illinois Food Bank, Rockford Sharefest, Stroll on State, and her church’s youth ministry.
“I have worked very hard in my academics all throughout my years of education, but also have made time to give back to the environment and community,” Brooke said. “I believe I demonstrate the qualities of a student who deserves this scholarship because of my passion to help others, make an impact on the community, and serve.”
Ryan Gasser, Milton High School, plans to attend UW-Madison and major in biology with a minor in chemistry to pursue a doctorate degree in pharmacy and become a pharmacist.
He has been active in the Milton 4-H Club and is a member of the Ice Age Trail Alliance’s Rock County chapter.
Ryan said that he and his family are proud to be Rock Energy members. “The co-op has intertwined itself in the community, giving back to its members and community, showing that the co-op takes pride in where it is located and genuinely wants to make the community better,” Ryan said. “In a world with multibillion-dollar corporations, we are thankful we are part of a co-op that places a high value in our community.
“Just as your cooperative gives back to the community and its members, I have a history of giving back to my community through service projects with my 4-H club and building and maintaining hiking trails with the Ice Age Trail Alliance. I plan on continuing to give back in my future new community of Madison.”
Emily Goodger, Milton High School, plans to attend Carroll University in Waukesha and major in biology with a premed emphasis and a Spanish or chemistry minor. Her career goal is to become a doctor, but she hasn’t decided on what specialty to pursue.
She has volunteered at Mercy Health System, the Milton School District, and the Milton Chamber of Commerce. “As a volunteer, I have to be able to take charge in tough situations,” she said. “For example, for two years I organized the Milton Annual Easter Egg Hunt. I had to help organize a group of people to fill over 10,000 eggs as well as set up the event. It was important that I stayed very organized, making it the best experience for all the community members.”
Emily said she appreciates that Rock Energy gives back to the community. “This is very important to me because, as an aspiring doctor, I want to give back to the community as much as possible, so I try to support those who give back to the community as well.
“I have worked very hard all throughout high school and because of all my extracurricular activities and community service, I’ve been able to make a huge impact on my community. By receiving this scholarship, I will be able to complete my goal of becoming a doctor and start the next chapter in my life.”
Emily McCabe, Hononegah High School, plans to attend St. Louis University and major in occupational therapy with a minor in Spanish. “I am interested in pursuing a career to help individuals who struggle to live a normal life, which is why I am particularly interested in occupational therapy,” she said. “I will obtain my master’s degree in occupational therapy and likely specialize in pediatrics and work in a school or children’s hospital as an OT.”
Emily said she appreciates that Rock Energy reinvests in its members and community. She also likes that the co-op refers to everyone as members rather than just customers and provides benefits other than the expected energy service.
Her volunteer activities have included tutoring at Rockton Grade School, coaching the local swim team, helping out at the Northern Illinois Food Bank, and teaching faith formation class at her church.
“I deserve this scholarship due to my interest in helping others with my career and clear dedication to my studies,” Emily said. “My passion towards my field and work to help others reveals itself through my numerous extracurricular activities.”
Brenna Mullooly, Clinton High School, plans to attend Viterbo University in La Crosse and study nutrition and dietetics. “I would love to take these skills and find a job working with children either in a school setting or hospital setting,” she said. “I am also excited to learn about the many different job opportunities this career has to offer.”
While in high school, Brenna has participated in various sports and clubs. Her list of community involvements is lengthy, including stuffing Easter eggs for the Friends of Carvers Rock Park, making tie blankets for Meadow Park Nursing Home, cleaning up Emerald Grove Cemetery, working at a Christmas carnival for children of incarcerated parents, helping at a prom for people with disabilities, serving as a counselor for Youth Basketball Camp, and volunteering at Van Buren Elementary School.
She said her older brother is a college freshman, and her younger sister will go to college in three years. “When my grandpa passed away from pancreatic cancer last year, my mom left her teaching career to help my dad take over my grandparents’ farming operation,” she said. “Any financial support through scholarships would be greatly appreciated as I hope to alleviate as much of this hardship from my parents as I can.
“Higher education is very important to me. I have worked hard in high school by taking honors, AP, and college courses.”
Morgan Stengel, Craig High School, plans to major in nursing and is especially interested in emergency room work. While in high school, she has performed in the varsity show choir, traveled to the White House to sing with a group of upperclassmen, and participated in various clubs. She also has taken a certified nursing assistant class.
“My career plans include working as a nurse for enough years to pay off my student debt, then go back to school to be become a nurse practitioner,” she said. “This will allow a broader scope of practice for me in the medical field and will allow me to help more people. I want to be a nurse because I have a passion for helping others above myself, and I am intrigued by the medical field.”
Morgan said her family appreciates the reliability that Rock Energy provides and the energy-saving tips in the monthly newsletters. “I personally love how Rock Energy shows its appreciation by offering Beloit Snappers game tickets and other community events like pancake breakfasts,” she said. “Rock Energy also helps the community through efforts like Project Lift Up. This is an amazing thing which I think means a lot to many families who can’t afford to keep their house warm in the winter.
“I have worked so incredibly hard throughout my entire high school career, both in school and out of school, when people are watching me and when I am alone. I can’t wait to work even harder in the next step of my life to get the chance to help people in a great way.”
Rachel Strasser, South Beloit High School, will attend the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. “I plan to get a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering, possibly going back to get a master’s degree,” she said. “I want to work with developing prosthetics, and hopefully doing research while still in college.”
During high school, she has been involved in various clubs and sports as well as being a peer tutor. In the community, she has done volunteer work with the Northern Illinois Food Bank and Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful. She also participates in activities at her church and represented Rock Energy on the 2018 Youth Tour to Washington, D.C.
Rachel said she appreciates that Rock Energy returns excess revenue to its members and provides a discount card so members can save money on purchases.
“I have worked really hard to get where I am,” she said. “I have pushed myself academically to be at the top of my class and to pick where I continue my education. Socially, I strive to be a role model for my school and community, always staying involved at school, being one who staff can depend on, and finding ways to get involved with volunteer work.”
Madi Vine, Parkview High School, intends to major in biology at college and then go to medical school to pursue her dream of being in the medical field. Specifically, she hopes to become a pediatrician.
In high school, she has been involved in various sports and clubs and was chosen to participate in Badger Girls State. Her volunteer activities have included assisting with community blood drives, ringing bells for the Salvation Army, and helping at the American Legion.
“I have worked very hard throughout my high school career, hoping that in the end it would all pay off through something like this scholarship,” she said.
Madi recognizes the historic role the co-op played in lighting up the countryside. “Rock Energy provides the luxury of having lights, heat, and power to those of us who don’t live in town,” she said. “This gives us the ability to live in a beautiful rural setting while still getting all the benefits that someone in the city would get.”
Kyle Wille, Edgerton High School, plans to double-major in kinesiology/exercise science and pre-chiropractic. “From there I hope to get into chiropractic school,” he said. “My dream job is providing chiropractic as well as therapeutic needs for patients.
In high school, he has participated in sports, band, and various clubs. He also has volunteered with the junior golf league and at junior basketball tournaments and camps.
“I have been a part of introducing the game of golf and basketball to many kids throughout the community,” Kyle said. “I have enjoyed watching many kids continue to grow and improve throughout the years that they have gone through our camps/programs.”
Kyle has been on church mission trips to Milwaukee and Texas and will travel to Puerto Rico this summer. “These trips have had a large impact on my life and drive me to continue helping those in need,” he said.