AT&T funds $14K STEM scholarships for RCC

Published 9:04 am Wednesday, October 31, 2018

To help students achieve their dream careers in the STEM field, AT&T has given Riverland Community College a lending hand.

Inside Riverland Community College’s library on Tuesday, state legislators and university administrators were present when AT&T announced it would donate $14,000 ($1,000 for 14 students) to individuals this fall semester who were pursuing a degree in STEM-related careers.

Since 2014, AT&T has donated about $50,000 in scholarships to Riverland Community College students who were pursuing an education and career field related to STEM. In 2014 and 2015, AT&T provided $13,000; in 2016, $10,000 was donated for scholarship support.

Paul Weirtz of AT&T discusses the commitment the company has toward education during a ceremony Tuesday announcing that AT&T was donating $14,000 for STEM Scholarship Support.
Photos by Eric Johnson/

Email newsletter signup

AT&T Minnesota President Paul Weirtz stated that with baby boomer retirements increasing, the skills gap widened for local businesses and industry that requires workers to earn higher education and training to match the requirements for jobs, particularly in STEM-related careers.

“AT&T Minnesota is committed to helping advance the education of our young people, particularly in critical fields of science, technology, engineering and math,” Weirtz said. “We are proud to once again support Riverland’s scholarship program and help more students receive the STEM education they need to be prepared for careers in the 21st Century.”


Dr. Adenuga Atewologun, president of Riverland Community College, shared his gratitude with AT&T’s financial donation, stressing the importance of STEM education and its vital role in different fields. One of those is agriculture, which is prominent in the economic market in southeast Minnesota.

“I want to thank AT&T for their pivotal and critical donations,” Atewologun said. “This STEM education is so important to our economy and provides opportunities for students to prepare them to join the workforce.”

More than 400 high-skill, high-demand job openings in Austin are STEM-based, according to Riverland Community College. Local state representatives also expressed the need for continued support of STEM education.

“This scholarship will put a post-secondary education in reach for our students,” said Sen. Dan Sparks, DFL-Austin. “Thank you Riverland students for dedicating yourselves to your education.”

Recounting the $50,000 that was donated to scholarship support at Riverland, District 27B Rep. Jeanne Poppe, DFL-Austin, stated that with AT&T making its financial contributions to community college students, it was granting higher accessibility to promoting a sustainable future in economic growth.


“That’s 50 students you have helped,” Poppe said. “I work at Riverland Community College as a counselor and I work with students who struggle to find success because it hinges on not having the right financial support. This allowed 50 students to have that extra push to have that success. I know we have a multitude of students who are able to be benefitted from your generous contribution.”

“I was doing the right thing”

A Riverland student studying accounting with aspirations to eventually become a plant controller, Heidi Ellis was one of the 14 students who received an AT&T scholarship.

Supporting a large family with significant college expenses, Ellis was initially uncertain if she should have continued to pursue additional education at Riverland. However, when she was notified that she was chosen to be a recipient of the AT&T scholarship, the doubts were eased.

“I have still managed a 3.82 GPA and take about 12 to 15 credits per semester,” she said. “I’ve struggled with doubt about creating more expenses. However, when I received this scholarship, I was reminded that I was doing the right thing for myself and for my family.”


Another Riverland student who was also a recipient of the AT&T scholarship was Kevin Riskedahl, who was fascinated with computer sciences and hoped to enter into the computer science field. He expressed his curiosity with computers since he was a child, and that this scholarship would continue to help him achieve his goals.

“I intend to find employment in some branch of computer science in the dawn of the new computerized age,” he said. “It’s people like me with the passion for technology that have to lead the world into the new age. I want to thank Riverland for providing me the place to foster this growth.”

AT&T Scholarship awardees:

Heidi Ellis

Kevin Riskedahl

Audrey Merriweather

Christine Omenya

Gilberto Carrion

Jerome Nyongasen

Joseph Collins

Levi Wollschlager

Makenzi Rhoades

Mitchell McCabe

Morgan Burt

Sheyenne Rodriguez

Shivang Patel

Yadiel Ortiz