Seven students garner $5,750 in Wisconsin Restaurant Association scholarships

Education Foundation awards help students pursue hospitality career dreams
Nilu Umarova in 2018 at an International Education Week event showing traditional Tajikistan dress.
Pam Powers | October 25, 2021

Seven University of Wisconsin-Stout students recently received $5,750 in scholarships from the Wisconsin Restaurant Association Education Foundation.

“WRAEF is committed to helping UW-Stout’s bright and talented students pursue their dreams in hospitality,” said Connie Fedor, WRA Education Foundation executive director. “We’re unbelievably impressed with our 2021-22 scholarship recipients and can’t wait to see them thrive in our vibrant industry.”

A reception was held Oct. 17 at Buck & Honey’s Restaurant in Monona for student scholarship recipients.

“All of our scholarship receipts become one-year student members of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association,” said Alex Vernon, WRAEF ProStart manager and a UW-Stout alum. 

“The UW-Stout scholarship students participated in a scholarship student forum that introduced them to our association and provided them with a session on navigating the art of networking. As an education foundation, our goal is to train and develop the next generation of hospitality leaders. By connecting them to the Wisconsin Restaurant Association, we are able to plug them into a network of businesses while giving them the tools needed to succeed in our industry,” Vernon said.

ProStart is a nationwide curriculum and mentoring program designed to introduce high school students to the skills needed for careers in the restaurant and food service industry. In Wisconsin, the program is available to more than 100 high schools and trains more than 6,300 students annually.

Torry Dillman photo
Torry Dillman photo / Photo courtesy Torry Dillman

UW-Stout senior Nilu Umarova, who is double majoring in hotel, restaurant and tourism management and real estate property management, was one of the students who received a $750 WRA West Wisconsin Chapter Scholarship.

“This scholarship means I have succeeded,” said Umarova, of Tajikistan. “It is a validation of my abilities and proof that I am on the right path. I am so grateful for the opportunity to study at UW-Stout and scholarships make the dream of graduating come true. I will always have people to thank for my accomplishments and the financial support that helped me to live my American dream.”

Umarova is planning to graduate in May and is seeking full-time employment.

“The best part about studying at Stout is getting multiple job offers before you even graduate college,” Umarova noted. “After the recent Career Conference held at Stout, I already have multiple offers from different companies all over the nation and I am super excited to graduate because at Stout we are all career ready.”

The Fall Career Conference sponsored by Career Services was held in person and virtually from Sept. 27 to Oct. 1.

Torry Dillman, of Princeton, who is majoring in hotel, restaurant and tourism management, earned a $500 Otto & William Brakebush Scholarship. “Receiving this scholarship means that some of the financial pressure is alleviated, which in turn allows me to focus on being a successful student,” she said.

Dillman earned an associate degree in December 2020 in hospitality management from Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton. She then enrolled at UW-Stout to earn her bachelor’s degree and plans to graduate in December 2022.

“After graduation I hope to continue working in the hotel side of hospitality,” Dillman said. “I really want to make a difference. I want to change the culture that is associated with the hospitality industry. The hospitality industry is notorious for having a high turnover rate, a high incidence of addictive behaviors and often times it is due to the toxic culture that can be found in hospitality.”

Dillman went back to college at age 46. “I wanted to show my children, and anyone else, that it is never too late to go back to school. It’s never too late to find something you’re passionate about and make it happen.”

Other recipients from UW-Stout include:

  • Kylie Amundson, of Cameron; Aderis DeRosa Scholarship; senior, family and consumer sciences education
  • Nayeli Coronado, of Elkhorn; Culver Family & Ryberg Family Scholarship; sophomore, hotel, restaurant and tourism management
  • Elizabeth Her, of Wausau; Apitz/Quinnies Family & Chaine des Rôtisseurs Scholarship; senior, food science and technology
  • Bailey Jacque, of Thorp; Manufacturer’s Agents for the Food Service Industry Scholarship; first year, hotel, restaurant and tourism management
  • Emily Schmitt, of West Bend; Fischer & Heuser Scholarship; junior, hotel, restaurant and tourism management.

The WRA awards about $40,000 in scholarships annually. Since 1983 when the foundation started, UW-Stout students have received $96,250 in scholarships.


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