As a high school student in New London, Minn., Erin
Wermerskirchen loved books and literature, "I wanted to be a teacher of
English, theater, and speech," she said. Even after she won a Minnesota
speech competition, she worried that she wouldn't have the financial
resources to attend college.
Enter Frank A. Gulbrandsen, an associate professor in the Department
of Education. "I met him on a college tour," Wermerskirchen said. "He
was eloquent and intelligent. He said UMD could give me just as good
of a education as anywhere else and that the individual determines what
can be made out of an educational experience. It was one meeting with a
professor in his office, and it changed my life," she said. Wermerskirchen
was accepted at UMD, and she pursued scholarships.
Now, as a promising UMD junior, Wermerskirchen is benefiting from
two scholarships: the Frederick W. Hart Memorial Scholarship and the
UMD John Jurkovich Scholarship. That support, combined with duties
as a resident advisor, allows her to continue her studies with minimal
The Hart scholarship is awarded to full-time students of junior status
in K-12 education. The Hart scholarship was named for Frederick W.
Hart, the father of U of M Professor James F. Hart, and long time educator
in the Duluth Public School system. The Jurkovich scholarship is awarded
to junior or senior education students. Jurkovich, who has since passed on,
was a professor in UMD's Department of Education.
After she graduates, Wermerskirchen hopes to secure an English
teaching position at a high school lacking programs in speech and theater
so she can start the programs from scratch. She expresses gratitude for the
scholarship help she's received. "Without assistance from UMD, I would
not have been able to pursue higher education at all," she said.