Each speaker at Tuesday’s Rudd Foundation presentation at Fort Hays State University talked about grit, determination and a strong work ethic.
Those traits are the cornerstone on which the Rudd Scholarship Program was formed, and they are ones that the scholarship selection committee feels Rudd Scholars should possess.
The Rudd Foundation believes that Fort Hays State University also possesses those characteristics. Therefore, FHSU is one of three state universities chosen for Rudd Scholars to attend “because they represent the Midwestern values of grit, determination and work ethic,” said Peter Najera, president of the Rudd Foundation.
At a reception in the Robbins Center, the five new Rudd Scholars who will be attending Fort Hays State next fall were recognized.
Nearly 900 students from around the state were among this year’s list of applicants, from which only 25 were chosen. Five will attend Emporia State University, and the remaining 15 will enroll at Wichita State University, the alma mater of the late Leslie Rudd, a Wichita native.
Rudd was an entrepreneur and philanthropist who founded the Rudd Group, a privately owned portfolio of luxury businesses and established the Rudd Foundation in 1998. Through the foundation, the Rudd Scholarship was started “to help students for whom the the financial burden of higher education made its attainment nearly impossible,” he wrote in a letter to potential Rudd Scholars before he died in 2018.
The four-year scholarship is open to Kansas students who qualify for a Pell Grant. It covers any remaining cost of attendance after all other aid, grants and scholarships are applied to a student’s account. The expected value for the 25 members of the second class of Rudd Scholars is $1.4 million over four years. More information about the program can be found at ruddfoundation.org.
“Kansas high schools continue to produce very talented young men and women imbued with the Midwestern values, and we are excited to make an investment in them through a college education,” Najera said. “These 25 recipients, in addition to the 19 previously selected, brings us to a total of 44 Rudd Scholars in college who will continue to support each other as they are groomed to strengthen the talent pipeline here in Kansas upon graduation.”
The scholarship is earned through a competitive selection process that requires grades, test scores, essays, letters of recommendation. The 50 semifinalists then go through a personal interview as well.
One of the new Rudd Scholars is Aundrea Haberer from Sylvan-Lucas Unified High School, who plans to major in agronomy. She will be the third member of her family attending FHSU. Her older sister, Elaia Haberer Garrett, graduated in 2017, and heir mother, Rhonda Haberer, also is a Tiger alum.
Haberer visited other colleges but said she “really liked the feel of the campus” at Fort Hays State.
The three members of the first class of Rudd Scholars at Fort Hays State attended the reception.
Meleny Jacome-Banuelos from Johnson welcomed the incoming class to “our family.”
“From this moment forward, we three individuals are here to support you,” she said. “The hardest things in life are usually the best things for you, and we are here to offer any kind of help or support.”
She told the newcomers they will “get to work with the people and get to know more people who want to be successful. We can all learn from each other. I am looking forward to them coming to campus. I will get some leadership experience.”
Current Rudd Scholars talked about the numerous advantages of the Rudd Scholarship, other than the financial piece of it.
“I was extremely grateful for this, not just for the financial aspect of it but for the networking angle, too,” said Cydney Bergmann from Concordia, a pre-veterinarian major.
Bergmann was considering other colleges as well as Fort Hays State when she heard of the Rudd Scholarship.
Bergmann had received enough academic scholarships to cover expenses for the first year of college but was unsure of future years. Plus, she knew vet school would be more schooling – and additional expense.
“This scholarship has made a huge impact, because I don’t have the financial burden and can focus on my classes,” she said. “I didn’t want to be in debt twice.”
Some of the requirements for Rudd Scholars are to live on campus, take an active part in organizations and pursue leadership opportunities. They also must graduate in four years.
Jacome-Banuelos is a first-generation student majoring in organizational leadership. She said she already has been positively impacted during her first year.
“This scholarship has really helped me connect with people in my field,” Jacome-Banuelos said. “Building connections has been really helpful.”
“This scholarship strives to find the brightest Kansas minds – those who have that grit, integrity, and drive to succeed – and empower those students with the resources to achieve their goals,” said Dr. Tisa Mason, FHSU president. “At Fort Hays State, we are thrilled to provide innovative educational opportunities, vibrant learning communities, state-of-the-art technology, world-class internships and unparalleled opportunities for experiential learning inside and out of the classroom – and all at the most affordable tuition rate in the Kansas and the region.”
Najera said he is pleased with the first two classes and looks forward to adding more and more in years to come.
“In just two more years, we will have nearly 100 Rudd Scholars on campus learning from one another,” Najera said. “And in a few years after that, they will all be networking with one another throughout the state as they continue on their trajectory of being positive contributors to our Kansas communities and society as a whole.”
Each of the new scholars talked a bit, thanking the foundation for this opportunity and had their picture taken with Najera and Mason. They got to learn a little about the welcoming culture of Fort Hays State as administrators, faculty and staff joined the new scholars and their families at their tables.
Haberer already has bought into the FHSU campus spirit.
After thanking the Rudd Foundation “for this amazing offer,” she finished her talk with “Go Tigers!”
The list of the second class of Rudd Scholars at FHSU (for the 2019-20 school year), listed by hometown, name, high school and major:
BELOIT (67420): Trinity Wagner, Beloit High School, biology.
DODGE CITY (67801): Ayanna Hensley, Dodge City High School, radiology.
GRAINFIELD (67737): Angel Mong, Wheatland/Grinnell High School, elementary education.
LURAY (67649): Aundrea Haberer, Sylvan-Lucas Unified High School, agronomy.
STERLING (67579): Gage Farney, Sterling High School, construction management.
Current Rudd Scholars at FHSU, from the first class of 2018-19, listed by hometown, name and major:
CONCORDIA (66901): Cydney Bergmann, pre-veterinary medicine.
JOHNSON (67855): Meleny Jacome-Banuelos, organizational leadership.
KINGMAN (67068): Danica Kostner, biology.