2022 Michaela Romano Scholarship Winners Announced by WIU-Quad Cities College Faculty of Arts and Sciences

May 13, 2022

MOLINE, IL — Fourteen years ago, members of the faculty of arts and sciences at Western Illinois University – Quad Cities began awarding the annual Michaela Romano Scholarship, and the streak remains unbroken.

While the prize has been awarded since 2009, it was renamed seven years ago in memory of Michaela Rae Romano (1988-2014), daughter of biology professors emeritus Michael and Susan Romano at Western Illinois University. A cum laude graduate of Knox College with a major in Anthropology-Sociology and a minor in Gender and Women’s Studies, Michaela was an exemplary liberal arts and science student. At Knox, she received the Academic Achievers Scholarship and the Howell Atwood Award, and was an active member of Students against Sexism in Society and the Chinese Club. Michaela then obtained a Chinese language certificate at Beloit College and taught English in China.

All three winners this year have GPAs of 3.5 or higher, and all are completing a degree from the College of Arts and Sciences at WIU-QC next fall or subsequent spring semesters. They were nominated by individual faculty members and selected by an interdisciplinary committee after submitting 500-word essays about their WIU-QC educational experiences.

This year’s winners, with excerpts from their personal essays, include:

Samantha Biermann (Moline, IL) is a liberal arts and science (LAS) major. In her essay, she expressed particular appreciation for her professors’ efforts to enable professional development outside of the classroom. In particular, Biermann praised the faculty commitments of Instructor Jeffrey Sim (psychology) and Assistant Professor Tammy Werner (sociology and LAS).

“After each class, Dr. Werner spends his precious time listening to me talk about the internships I applied for and offers advice,” Biermann noted. “In addition, she contacts the on-site supervisors I have accepted internships with to ensure that I am not ‘just filling out paperwork’ and assists with the internship process when needed. Through guidance and with the help of Dr. Werner, I have two internships planned for the future, and I have a better chance of finding a job after I graduate.”

Nathan Konvicka (Geneseo, IL) has a degree in psychology. Drawing on an extended metaphor about the value of “tension,” Konvicka explained how the beauty emerging from piano strings, physical muscles, and intellectual growth depends on stretching without being broken.

So too, Konvicka testified, is how an ideal student experience is characterized by many diverse investments that also serve to produce a similar sense of tension.

“I balanced schoolwork, work, service in my church, and spending time with friends, family, and significant others, while doing my best to remain sustainable in producing my body and of my soul,” he said. “It’s been a lot. I’m tired, but I’m not exhausted, and I haven’t finished. WIU-QC has been the framework over the past few years through which I have built the muscles that I will have need to complete my life’s work with excellence.”

Sarah Wright (Davenport, IA) is a liberal arts and science (LAS) major. Wright described in her essay how unprepared she felt for college.

“I didn’t grow up feeling capable of succeeding in college,” she explained – and yet a combination of therapy and increased risk-taking showed how much she could actually achieve, both as a student and as an officer of the InterDisciplinary English and the Arts Society (IDEAS).

“It wasn’t until I started at Western that I began to develop the confidence I needed to cultivate my personal growth,” Wright said. “Western is filled with faculty who genuinely care about their students’ growth and their ability to apply their lessons to the world beyond the college gates. I have found them to be enthusiastic and passionate about the things they teach It’s obvious the lessons matter to them, and it lends a level of authenticity to the program that encourages students to listen more closely.”

For more information on WIU-Quad Cities, visit wiu.edu/qc/, and for more information on the College of Arts and Sciences, visit wiu.edu/cas/.

Posted by: Lexi Yoggerst ([email protected])
University Communications and Marketing Office