Student Success: Hard work pays off for Lourdes grad

Jolene Schultz remembers as a young child playing school with her sister. People would give her books and she'd use them to make worksheets for her "students."

In the first grade, Schultz already knew she wanted to become a teacher.

"I just always really knew that I liked to help other people, and it was really rewarding," she says.

As a student at Oshkosh's Lourdes Academy, she began to put the pieces into place to make her dreams a reality. She worked on getting good grades, and sought help on the subjects she struggled with. Outside of school, she was a leader for a summer camp program, worked as a nanny and volunteered for programs focused on children.

Photo caption: Jolene Schultz is a teacher at The Richardson School in Brookfield. She teaches a small group of first- through fourth-grade students who have special needs ranging from autism, learning disabilities, emotional disabilities and other cognitive needs.

When it was time to plan for college, Schultz fell in love with the Concordia University campus.

"I was like, 'This is it,' " she says. "I came from a comfortable family, but not comfortable enough to afford the school I wanted to go to.

"If I wanted to go to college - and my mom (Nancy) said not going to college was not an option - I was going to have to get help to pay for it."

Those who know Schultz well understand that when she puts her mind to something, nothing will stand in her way. Determined to attend Concordia, Schultz set about an extensive search for scholarships and told her story, again and again, as she filled out dozens of applications. She assembled the entire student body for an assembly on sexual abuse as part of the requirements for a scholarship.

"I remember (Schultz) being involved with the program, and remember thinking, 'Wow, what a great thing for a student to do this and to organize,' " says Randy Walter, a former Lourdes administrator, coach and math teacher.

Schultz did not receive that scholarship.

But her efforts to get scholarships paid off.

She received the William M. Bray and Gladys W. Ihde scholarships through the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation, which amounted to thousands of dollars of help for multiple years of college, in addition to scholarships from Oshkosh Southwest Rotary and the American Legion, and others.

The help enabled Schultz to earn dual degrees in Elementary and Special Education from Concordia. Now, in her first year teaching at The Richardson School in Brookfield, Schultz was humbled to receive a teacher of the month award.

Walter, her former math teacher, says he's not surprised to learn about Schultz's success after high school. "She had the focus on being successful and whatever she needed to do, she was going to do," he says. "Some kids just a have a natural talent for school. (Schultz) had to work at everything, and she worked really hard."

Schultz credits her mom for inspiration, and her teachers and Lourdes education for her success. She encourages students to be involved in many different activities, and to know that they do not have to be a top student or athlete to get a scholarship and be successful.

"What I did have was a lot of community service. I hope that other prospective (scholarship) recipients will see how important that can be and the difference it can make not only in the lives of others, but in their own life as well," writes Schultz in a thank you letter to the Foundation.

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