My mom is a teacher and she has always placed a big emphasis on education. Throughout my life she has always been my number one supporter and encouraged me to try new and different things. With her support, I was involved in many clubs, organizations, and activities growing up – from church choir, girl scouts, athletics, band, etc. I developed a particular passion for gymnastics and dance and in pursuit of these passions (and an academic challenge) I transferred from Ramsey to South for high school, on the advice of friends and family.
My mom always found a way to make things work, despite being a single mom and not living close to my new school. In fact, I was a little nervous about the transfer, but I had a great experience at South. I loved the cultural diversity of the school, the friendships I made, and I continued to participate in athletics – soccer, diving, golf, dance, and of course – gymnastics. Although a major ACL injury prevented me from continuing in club gymnastics, it was a blessing in disguise as it got me involved in other sports like diving and golf for South. I was also able to compete in gymnastics as I regained my skill level. After just 3 years of competing in diving and golf, I made it to the State Tournament for diving and was All-conference in golf in my senior year.
Approaching my senior year of high school my mom encouraged me to meet with my guidance counselor to discuss my future education plans and financing. Going to college was not a question for me. It was a given, and I was fortunate that my mom never worried me about finances. However, I knew I had to do what I could to ease the potential financial burden on both my mom and myself. So I set up a meeting with my counselor and that is where I found out about the Wallin Scholarship. Shortly after the meeting, I filled out my application and crossed my fingers.
When the news arrived that I had been selected to receive a Wallin Scholarship, I was thrilled. The recognition that came along with receiving the scholarship was a huge motivator for me. It really justified all the hard work I’d put into balancing both my academic work and life outside of school. While I was excited, I didn’t realize at the time how big of an impact this would have on my life.
I decided to attend Gustavus Adolphus in St. Peter. Having attended the University of Minnesota through the PSEO program, I knew that a smaller school would be a better fit for me. As a new student in a new city, I tried my best to balance a social life, academics, work and athletics (gymnastics, dance and track and field), but often times I was pulled in more directions than I could go. Some days, it was hard to stay focused on my academic work. Naturally, it was much easier for me to work hard in the gym than to go to the library and study for a few hours. In fact, one of my proudest moments was being able to come back from my ACL injury to be able to compete at the National level on the balance beam. But, this was also where my Wallin advisor really played a crucial role in my success in academics. The accountability and having to check in with someone on a frequent basis kept me focused. Knowing that my Wallin advisor really cared about me as a person, and always had my best interests in mind pushed me to work even harder than I probably would have with all of the distractions. Because of my success both academically and in sports, I was a proud recipient of the All American Award.
Throughout my college years, I always found time to write Mr. Wallin and thank him for his program, a suggestion from my advisor that really instilled in me a tremendous attitude of gratitude that I’ve carried with me into my life after college.
Since graduating from Gustavus Adolphus with my B.A in Business Management and a Minor in Dance, I’ve still managed to keep up with my first passion – gymnastics. By night, I’ve been officiating gymnastic meets for about 12 years and I began coaching a local high school gymnastics team 5 years ago. By day, I am a Financial Advisor at Thrivent Financial, where I meet with clients to help them figure out and reach their financial goals. I’ve been a Licensed Financial Services Associate for 5 years and have received a number of certifications including my FINRA Series 63, FINRA Series 06, FINRA Series 07. With the help of the Wallin Scholarship program during my college years I was in a financially sound position and able to purchase a home on my own at 26.
More recently, I was selected to be a volunteer for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. After a rigorous yearlong application, interview and training process, I was chosen to be a Technical Operations Scorer for golf. My favorite part of the whole experience was getting to know people from all over the world. I was fortunate to stay in a housing complex close to the golf course with roommates from Brazil, Mexico and Russia. We became really close and even attended the Gymnastics Team Finals together. It was an unforgettable once in a lifetime experience!
In the future, I hope to be able to use my skills and passion for finance to help students, Alumni, and supporters of Wallin Education Partners manage and plan for their financial futures. The Wallin Scholarship program has benefited me in so many ways and I am truly honored and thankful programs like this exist.