One of the largest employers in Oconto Falls has donated $50,000 to create a scholarship fund at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay to benefit students from the six-county area north and northwest of Green Bay.
The gift from ST Paper LLC, Oconto Falls, establishes the ST Paper Scholarship Fund. The fund will provide awards of $5,000 each to 10 individuals — five continuing students and five freshmen or transfers. The scholarships will be available to students who graduated from a high school located within Brown, Florence, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto or Shawano counties.
Sahil Tak, vice president of ST Paper (pictured), said the company’s decision to fund college scholarships at UW-Green Bay is in keeping with its mission.
“We place great importance on giving back to our community,” he said. “We have found that one of the best ways to help is to support our young students as they become our future leaders. Nowadays, these students are often hamstrung with high student loan bills, and we are trying to make the cost of a higher education more affordable.
“UW-Green Bay is a place of opportunity not only for the people of Oconto Falls, Oconto and all of Oconto County, but for neighboring communities where many of our employees, friends and neighbors reside. We are delighted to be in a position to make these scholarships available to the general public, and to assist the University and its students.”
Tak says his company hopes to renew funding on an annual basis with the intent of building an ongoing scholarship program.
Recipients of ST Paper Scholarship Fund awards will be chosen by the UW-Green Bay Office of Financial Aid. To be eligible for consideration, an applicant must be a graduate of a high school in the six-county area; have a minimum cumulative grade point average (either high school or college) of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale; maintain a full-time course load at UW-Green Bay; and demonstrate financial need. Preference will be given to those who indicate they are first-generation college students, defined as neither parent having a four-year degree.
In accepting the gift on behalf of the University, Beverly Carmichael, assistant chancellor for university advancement, says both the size of the scholarship awards and the number of beneficiaries are noteworthy.
“At UW-Green Bay, where so many of our students have part-time jobs and juggle work and studies to make ends meet, a $5,000 scholarship makes a big difference,” Carmichael says. “That would cover the majority of a student’s tuition and fees for a year. It also frees up time for research, extracurriculars, advanced coursework. Multiply that by 10 recipients, and the potential impact is tremendous.”
Potential applicants for the scholarships will be automatically notified of the opportunity by mid-June. Those contacts will be triggered if information in the UW-Green Bay database matches basic criteria regarding counties of high school graduation and GPA. Additionally, with “financial need” listed as a priority for consideration, FAFSA documentation (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) should be on file with the Office of Financial Aid. Applicants then will be asked to complete a two-page, double-spaced response to the question “How will attending college help me achieve my future goals?”
ST Paper LLC owns and operates a tissue-making facility on the banks of the Oconto River in Oconto Falls, a rural community of about 2,800 residents located 30 miles north of Green Bay. The mill employs nearly 100 workers.
ST Paper recycles wastepaper to create parent rolls that are sold to tissue and napkin converters. The company purchased the facility out of bankruptcy in 2007, taking over an operation with a 100-year history under previous management including Continental Paper, International Paper and Kimberly-Clark. ST Paper was able to turn around the mill’s performance by implementing improvements to the mill including several sustainable initiatives: a biomass boiler to provide steam power, and fine-tuning of the manufacturing processes to increase the range of recycled paper usable as pulp.