Grant Impact

Medical scholarships open doors for Omro, Winneconne graduates

“It’s amazing how important scholarships are.”

So says scholarship recipient, Erin Kelly. She is not your typical teenager. “When I was 16, I got my CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant license) on a whim,” the Omro High School valedictorian says. “I thought, ‘well, I’ll see if I like it.’ I just fell in love with working with people.”

Photo caption: Erin Kelly, Omro High School graduate, and Kari Patterson, Winneconne High School graduate, began their college education in 2015 at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, thanks in part to a scholarship created by the estate of Ellen Duex (inset photo).

Her experience working at Gabriel’s Villa in Oshkosh has created opportunities and helped this first-generation college student shape a vision for her future. After getting a degree in nursing, then a graduate degree, Kelly hopes to serve her own patient base at a family practice someday.

Kari Patterson doesn’t know Kelly, buttheir paths are about to cross as UW Oshkosh freshmen in 2015. Patterson was valedictorian of her Winneconne High School graduating class.

Her experience with sports injuries has shaped a vision of her future caring for others as a physical therapist. After suffering a concussion, Patterson missed a lot of school. It took a long time to feel like herself again. “I worked with so many physical therapists and I saw what they did for people, and thought it was really cool,” Patterson says. “I’m really excited to do that.”

“IT’S NICE BECAUSE I PRETTY MUCH HAVE MY SCHOOLING PAID FOR.” – Erin Kelly, who received several scholarships upon graduation

Enter Ellen Duex. The lifelong Oshkosh resident died in 2014. She was 68 and had battled cancer, her sister Cathy Schaefer says. She invested wisely after accepting an early retirement package from a phone company 20 years prior and left her estate to the Foundation.

Her legacy is living on through the bright futures of Kelly and Patterson, who are the first recipients of Ellen Duex Memorial Scholarships, which support people entering the nursing and medical fields.

“She spent a good part of the last year of her life in (a nursing home) and said how nice the nurses were,” says Schaefer. “They did everything for my sister.

It’s just wonderful.”

Learn how you can support the future education of young people in your community by establishing a scholarship fund.