Friends Rissel, Sharon: New program spotlights fine art of scholarships

top-sharon-reschEndowed scholarship programs bring students and donors together.

Sometimes the “coming together” is figurative, as when a young person’s college dreams get a boost through funding from a large foundation, an out-of-state philanthropist or a scholarship endowment established many decades earlier by someone the recipient will never meet.

Other times, the connection is face to face. At UW-Green Bay — a relatively young institution with a growing roster of generous scholarship contributors — the University Advancement Office makes a priority of scheduling on-campus receptions to introduce recipients to donors.

Students including Rissel Peguero (above, left) get the chance to personally express thanks to those who made their scholarships possible.

“Scholarships make a huge difference,” Peguero says. “With this scholarship I’m actually able to go to UWGB and focus on my career and do what I love. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to do that. Without it, I wouldn’t be here. I am so glad for the opportunity I have been given.”

In her case, the benefactor is Sharon J. Resch (right), who created the Sharon J. Resch Endowed Scholarship for Fine Arts. The scholarship is reserved for students who graduate from the Fine Arts Institute at Green Bay East High School and continue their music studies at UW-Green Bay.

Resch helped found the institute at East, where talent abounds but many students come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. It was there she got to know the musically gifted Peguero family. When she learned, afterward, that Rissel (piano, voice and saxophone) had not only been accepted to UW-Green Bay but had been awarded the first Resch Scholarship, Sharon was delighted.

“Rissel is so appreciative, as are her parents,” Resch says. “It’s a reward for her dedication and hard work. She has grown so much artistically, and as a person.”

Resch was a professional dancer, and acted and choreographed from New York to L.A. before moving to Green Bay with her husband, KI CEO Dick Resch. She credits a dance scholarship in her own youth for helping propel her to important roles with a professional touring group and later the Chicago Opera Ballet and on Broadway in New York City.

“I hope we can enlarge the scholarship program at UWGB,” she says. “Education is so important. For the students, it’s a way to pursue their passion and launch their lives.”