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Scholarships honor Wisconsin leader, help students achieve goals

Yakich portrait
Yakich scholars

by Laura Schreiner

“We believe in the power of education to transform lives.”

Walter J. Yakich founded the Mary Alice Yakich Educational Foundation in 1999 to honor the legacy of his late wife. A dedicated public servant and pioneer in Wisconsin politics, Mary Alice was the first female elected to serve as alderman in the City of Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in 1964. She was a staunch advocate for access to quality education that enriched both the academic and spiritual lives of students.

In 2018 the foundation, directed by their daughter Jan Drzewiecki, established the Mary Alice Yakich Educational Foundation Scholarship for high achieving incoming freshmen at Cardinal Stritch University.

“The mission of Cardinal Stritch University and our foundation are closely aligned,” said Drzewiecki. “Cardinal Stritch University develops mission-driven leaders, centered in the Catholic faith, who not only excel in academics, but also understand the importance of serving others. Our foundation believes in the 'Power of Education' to transform lives, and Stritch is at the forefront of doing so every day in all students' lives.”

The foundation intends to support five students each year, over the course of four years, resulting in a total of 20 students and endless opportunities.

“This scholarship provides me with the opportunity to pursue my educational goals,” recipient Megan Barnes said. “The financial help provided through the Mary Alice Yakich Educational Foundation Scholarship has lightened my burden and allows me to focus on my classes.”

Drzewiecki is honored to carry on her mother’s legacy in such an impactful way.

“My mom instilled in me the importance of service by the life she led,” Drzewiecki said. “She was a remarkable woman and leader in the community. I know she would be just as proud as I am of all the outstanding scholars we have been able to support.”


1. Mary Alice Yakich

2. Jan and Mike Drzewiecki with scholarship recipients Megan Barnes and Alyssa Denault.

Fall 2019