Born in Wisconsin to Hmong-American parents who did not speak English, Xiong spoke only Hmong and learned English when she went to school. It gave her an appreciation for the role teachers and education play in a child’s life. In her spare time, Xiong was captain of her soccer team for three years, helping to run practices and handle tournament registrations.

Mary and Ted Kellner established the Kellner Scholarship in the School of Education in 2004, largely based on Mary Kellner’s experience in urban education. She has spent many hours volunteering with numerous not-for-profit organizations and working with the family foundation, over which she presides. Her community involvement has included the Next Door Foundation, the Nehemiah Project, the Cornerstone Achievement Academy, the UWM Foundation and the Faye McBeath Foundation. But it was as a teacher that she first witnessed both the challenges and rewards of education.

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Nate Deans was inspired to teach by a high school English teacher and his grandmother, who earned her education degree at UWM. Although he initially looked at a career in journalism, he decided teaching others the essential skills of using the English language was his calling. His wife, a preschool teacher, also encouraged him.

The Reuben K. Harpole, Jr. Education Scholarship was established by community leader Reuben K. Harpole, Jr. to encourage African Americans, especially males, to go into teaching. Harpole, who earned his B.S. in Education from UWM in 1978, worked at the university’s School of Continuing Education (SCE) for 31 years, and was senior outreach specialist at SCE’s Center for Urban Community Development when he left UWM in 1997. In 2005, UWM awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters for his work to improve Milwaukee’s diverse communities.

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Angela Oglesby's overarching goal is to teach young children in the Milwaukee Public Schools, particularly in the area of special education. A self-described “nontraditional student,” Angela is both a graduate of MPS and a 14-year paraprofessional in the school district. When she applied for the scholarship from UWM, Oglesby was working in an MPS classroom that was classified as MRP (most restrictive placement).

Jim and Yvonne Ziemer are committed to making their hometown a better place. They’ve spent their lives in Milwaukee and have no intention of leaving it now. The Ziemers came to believe that they can do most for the city they love by supporting education in Milwaukee. “A community is only as strong as its educational system,” said Jim. “To improve Milwaukee, it’s extremely important that we support the city’s educational system. And UWM is an integral part of our city.”

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Eugene Taylor’s decision to close down his small business and pursue an education degree at age 41 was triggered by a lifechanging event. His father was diagnosed with lung cancer. “They diagnosed it early and his prognosis is good, but it made me reassess my own life… where am I now and where will I be in 20 or 30 years and will I be enjoying what I’m doing?” He thought about his ongoing love of history and how he could share that passion with others. Teaching seemed a perfect fit.

A 1956 graduate of the Milwaukee State Teachers College (one of UWM's predecessor institutions), Robert Kuehneisen grew up in Milwaukee and attended Center Street Elementary School and Riverside University High School, near the UWM campus. At the time it was received, the Kuehneisen bequest was believed to be SOE’s largest unrestricted gift and its largest bequest. It reflected his commitment to UWM education, students, teachers and athletes in a way few others have been able to match.

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