Yes, AND….

Scholarship recipients and donors pictured above: John Kersey (Zilber Family Foundation), Dean Magda Peck, Stephen Chevalier (Zilber Family Foundation), Sara Kohlbeck, Susan Llloyd (Zilber Family Foundation), Todd Pieper, Chang Thao, Katrina Lenz, Maggie Thelen, Nicholas Tomaro, Justin Rivas, Jennifer Kindt, and Kathy Staats.

By the time it was MPH student Kathy Staats’ turn to give brief remarks at last week’s annual UWM Scholarship celebration, the evening was filled to the brim with a dozen students’ appreciative stories of immediate assistance and lasting impact. Scholarships enabled them to be in college and at UWM; they in turn pledged to pay it forward. Kathy was the last student speaker of the night.

She said, “Zilber is an amazing place to be…(and it’s amazing to) be a part of growing the school to reach its full potential and beyond. Being a part of the Milwaukee community all my life, it’s fulfilling to be giving back to the community that has given me so much.”

Kathy ended her remarks with reference to Tina Fey’s “Rules of Improvisation” from her book Bossypants and brought down the house.

Last year, we cheered on the first recipients of the school’s ‘get it done’ scholarship for finishing MPH students, established to honor Constance A. Greiser, a former public health nurse in Green Bay. Fast forward to 2014: three full Zilber School tables front and center, each marked by salmon-colored balloons (the color on the graduation hood symbolizing public health). There were nine Vera Zilber Scholars, whose recipients are the first full-time students to enter the newest MPH tracks in Biostats, Epidemiology, and Public Health Policy and Administration. There were five Jerry and Louise Stein Scholars, who are the top MPH students in Community and Behavioral Health Promotion and Environmental Health Sciences. The first two BMO Harris Scholarship awardees were there as well: part-time students like Kathy pursing an MPH while working in the field. And a third MPH student Greiser awardee was ‘getting it done.’ That’s a total of 17 scholarship recipients! You can see the full list of awardees here.

Some scholarship recipients had proud parents at their side; others were joined by Zilber Family Foundation Executive Director Susan Lloyd and Board member Steve Chevalier, and senior colleague John Kersey from Zilber Ltd., who also serves on the UWM Foundation Board.  Together they created a memorable family portrait of early investors – students and donors alike – with great expectations of lasting success. Hats off to our new Development Director Michele Kitson, Graduate Program Manager Darcie Warren, and Graduate Recruiter and Field Experience Coordinator Kathrine Barnes for skillful collaborative leadership. They sure know how to make a milestone moment, balloons and all.

Oh, and what was Tina Fey’s advice? It’s not enough to say “yes” to the situation that’s been presented to you. Be the one to take it one step further and say “yes, AND…”  Kathy Staat’s take on this? “To all you fellow scholarship recipients in the room, congratulations on being told, ‘Yes!’ by the generous funders in the room. There’s an amount of freedom that comes along with being trusted with the precious dollars of the person who gave them to you. But it’s also up to you all to determine what’s next. How will you take your studies a step further? What will you discover? What new opportunities are out there? That, friends and colleagues, is the “AND…”