Former Social Worker Remembers UWM in Will

February 26, 2019

In 1953, Marcelena Lemanski earned a Master of Social Work degree from the Wisconsin State College, a precursor to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Upon her death at age 101, Marcelena remembered her alma mater, leaving more than $50,000 to the UWM Foundation, to be used for scholarships for graduate students in UWM’s Helen Bader School of Social Welfare. With simple provisions in her will, she left more than 84 percent of her total wealth to charitable organizations.

When Marcelena earned her graduate degree in the 1950s, less than 6 percent of women obtained bachelor’s degrees and even fewer pursued graduate school. In 1951, the Wisconsin State College began offering liberal arts programs in addition to education degrees, making Marcelena among the first to graduate with an advanced degree in social work.

Like many of today’s graduate students in the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare, she was a nontraditional student, returning to higher education in her mid-30s, armed with real-world experiences. A dedicated social worker, Marcelena worked as a probation supervisor for the Milwaukee County Children’s Court for many years. She realized how important graduate scholarships are for those pursuing careers in social welfare.

“Many of our graduate students are juggling families, field placements, and full-time jobs,” explains Dean Stan Stojkovic. “A graduate scholarship helps alleviate some of our students’ burdens so they can finish their degrees and move forward in their careers. I am so grateful to Marcelena Lemanski for remembering our students in her will, and I know that her legacy will live on through the many future social workers her gift will help.”