Two Franklin College professors recently established an endowed fund to help promising students pursuing degrees in mathematics or computing finance their education.
The funders, Mr. Paul Fonstad, Ph.D., and Mrs. Stacy Hoehn Fonstad, Ph.D., are assistant professors in mathematics. Their gift, the Dr. Gertrude J. Geraets Endowed Fund, memorializes Paul’s great aunt.
Geraets, Ed.D., dedicated her lifetime to educating elementary students and those who would become elementary school teachers. Geraets, born in 1924 and raised in a rural farm town in Wisconsin, realized her own potential at an early age and set her sights on college. She became a first-generation scholar and lifelong learner, eventually earning bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in education.
Her teaching career included positions in one-room school houses in the Midwest, elementary schools and a university on the West Coast, schools among the oil fields of New Mexico and lastly a return to the Midwest, where she remained with a college elementary education department for 22 years before retiring.
Geraets was proud of her academic achievements, and she used her personal story to help inspire and motivate others to achieve their dreams. Even after she retired from teaching in 1989, Geraets continued to make a positive impact through academic endeavors. She researched the lives and accomplishments of historical families in the local community, served as a docent with the community historical society, volunteered in an elementary school library and tutored/mentored a non-English speaking student through elementary and secondary school.
For these reasons and many more, the Fonstads said their family members near and far admired Geraets. She personified integrity, intellectual curiosity and innovation, particularly during a time when women were not highly encouraged to pursue degrees.
“It is our hope that this award will encourage more students, especially women, to follow in Gert’s footsteps and pursue their passion for learning, wherever it may take them,” said Paul.
The new fund coincides with a milestone in Franklin College history. The 2018-19 academic year will mark a century-long legacy of mathematics excellence at Franklin College and usher in a new era with the addition of a major in actuarial science.
(Posted July 13, 2018)
POSTED Jul 13, 2018