Scholarship pays tribute to inspiring teacher

'78 ONHS grad credits Veidemanis' encouragement for his success

For some, the desire to give back to the community is a trait passed down from generation to generation.

Others have a special connection to an organization or cause that directly affects family or friends. And then there are stories that inspire the creation of a fund like the one that honors Gladys Veidemanis, where one nudge in the right direction can change someone’s future for good, for ever.

Photo caption: Gladys Veidemanis retired after 38 years of teaching in Oshkosh schools. The English instructor was loved by many of her former students, including Peter Muehrer, who created a scholarship in her name. OACF Photo

Peter Muehrer, Yale graduate and accomplished doctor for nearly 30 years at the National Institute of Mental Health, was once a student at Oshkosh North High School (ONHS). As a member of the 1978 graduating class, he remembers one teacher in particular who inspired him to reach for a dream he never thought possible.

“Gladys Veidemanis taught Honors English at ONHS during my junior and senior years,” Muehrer says. “Mrs. V was the most memorable teacher I had in high school because of the deep personal interest she took in each of her students and the unflagging energy she devoted to encouraging them to reach their highest potential.”

Veidemanis, now retired after 38 years of teaching, saw a brilliant young man and a wonderful writer in the young Muehrer.

“Peter was an extremely versatile and brilliant student,” Veidemanis says. “He didn’t think Ivy League was a possibility, but I strongly encouraged him to apply. We’ve stayed in touch throughout the years, and I am incredibly proud of him and what he’s accomplished.”

Muehrer recalls writing weekly journal entries in Veidemanis’ class and how his former teacher’s comments were always positive and respectful, no matter how na├»ve her students’ viewpoints might have been perceived.

“To this day, I still have the index card on which Mrs. V suggested that I think about applying to college at Yale,” Muehrer says. “With her support and the help of Oshkosh Area Community Foundation scholarships, I completed my undergraduate studies at Yale before going on to finish my Ph.D.”

While attending his 35th high school class reunion in 2013, Muehrer realized the impact that Veidemanis had made on graduates like himself. To commemorate the reunion and honor their favorite teacher, Muehrer and his classmates established the Oshkosh North High School Class of 1978 Gladys Veidemanis Scholarship Fund.

“Thanks largely to her encouragement, we are now fortunate enough to be able to help fund a scholarship in her name so other highly promising students with financial need may begin their journeys along the paths to their goals,” Muehrer says.

This year, the scholarship fund awarded its first student with a four-year renewable scholarship of $500 for a total of $2,000 in financial aid.

The scholarship criteria specifies the award go to an ONHS student with a GPA of 3.0 or greater, with financial need and who plans to attend a four-year university.

“When I heard they had made a scholarship in my name, I was bowled over!” Veidemanis says. “It’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me in my life. The scholarship fund is a great way to give back to our community, and as a teacher, it’s wonderful to see the lasting effects.”

Support the Oshkosh North High School Class of 1978 Gladys Veidemanis Scholarship Fund

Foundation awards $273,845 in scholarships

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