“It’s a huge honor and will help me explore my passions,” said Pederson, who has switched her major twice and now is in the environmental science program.
She has worked part time to help pay for her education, so receiving a major award such as this out of the blue still is a shock. “This scholarship will certainly take some stress off,” she said.
Pederson also is thankful for the opportunity to get a COVID-19 vaccine, which qualified her for the System scholarship drawing but is even more valuable to her personally.
“Getting vaccinated was a necessity for me. I have multiple people in my family who have compromised immune systems,” she said.
As of Thursday, Nov. 18, 78% of students and 91% of faculty and staff at UW-Stout have been vaccinated.
“We are so proud of our students who stepped up to the plate and helped our campus reach the 70% vaccination rate,” said Sandi Scott, UW-Stout dean of students. “It’s exciting to know that the scholarship dollars were awarded to randomly selected students who helped us hit the mark!”
In addition to the System scholarships, the university is providing another seven scholarships for the same amount through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund — HEERF III — federal grant. Those winners also have been randomly chosen but still are in the process of being verified.
UW System President Tommy Thompson set a goal for 12 universities to reach a 70% student vaccination rate. All but one reached the goal, while UW-Madison ran its own campaign.
UW-Stout students reached the goal on Sept. 29, well ahead of the Oct. 31 System deadline.
“We took up a challenge to educate and inform students as a part of a vaccination campaign to help keep our universities safe – and it has succeeded,” Thompson said. “What a thrill it is to be able to tell students they have won a $7,000 scholarship. I am so proud of our students, faculty, staff and administrators who helped make this happen.”
The System released a short video on social media featuring Thompson celebrating the accomplishment with all university mascots, including UW-Stout’s Blaze.