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"Welcome to MSU," says Scholarship

“MSU is a big place and it was such a great feeling to know that there were people here looking out for me.”

Paulina Schmidtke in her graduation cap and gown, smiles for a photo at the Spartan Statue.

"Welcome to MSU," says Scholarship

Back in the dark economic days of 2009, an unexpected bright spot arrived on campus in the form of a $10M anonymous gift. The Spartan Scholarship Challenge leveraged a $7M portion of that gift to provide a 1:2 match to create new scholarships for MSU students in need.

Among the first to step up to the challenge were a group of friends from within the University. MSU executives Bill Latta, Bill Beekman, David Gift, and Jeff Kacos (along with spouses), and fellow executive David Brower created the MSU Leadership Endowment for the Spartan Scholarship Challenge.

Paulina Schmidtke, the first recipient to benefit from their friendly generosity, says nothing could have made her feel more welcomed when she arrived as a freshman.

“I felt so supported,” she says. “MSU is a big place and it was such a great feeling to know that there were people here looking out for me.”

Paulina was sure that she wanted to major in communications—until she discovered dietetics. Unlike many scholarships that are only awarded to students in a specific major, this one followed her to a new program where she completed her degree in 2015.

The support helped in an unexpected way as well. She says having that little bit of financial flexibility allowed her to shift a few expenses so she could take advantage of one of MSU’s Study Abroad programs—an international food law traveling course.

“Otherwise, I probably would not have gone,” she says. “And I would have missed an amazing experience that ended up helping me get where I am now.”

Today, Paulina is employed by a Woman, Infant and Children clinic in Chicago, as a nutritionist and breastfeeding consultant. It’s a career path she clearly loves.

“It is very rewarding work,” she says. “Every day I have the chance to make a difference. It is so great to see when a child’s health gets better because of something I could help the mom to do.”

Paulina plans to stay in the field, and wants to continue her education and add additional certifications. She hopes to create a scholarship of her own one day, too.

“It is a great chance to support somebody who is going through one of the toughest times of life,” she says. “It meant a lot to me and I would love to do that for someone else.”

It meant a lot to the group of friends who created the scholarship as well.

“As graduates of MSU, we strongly believe that our education gave us the opportunity for fulfilling and productive careers,” says Latta. “We wanted to do something that would be lasting and help students who come after us have the same opportunity.”

For more information on supporting student scholarships, contact Senior Director of Development Jennifer Bertram at or call (517) 432-7330.

Author: Lois Furry