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Doug and Carla Salmon Foundation helps UWO nursing alumna achieve her dreams

Rachel Emshoff’s first day as RN

For years it was Rachel Emshoff’s dream to one day become a registered nurse.

Emshoff, a University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh nursing graduate from Larson, clearly remembers the day she made the decision to pursue a degree in nursing.

“I was in the hospital having my third baby. I had the same midwife for all three of my deliveries and she greatly inspired me to pursue a career in women’s health,” she says. “That night in the hospital, I decided I would get an education to support my three babies.”

This decision, however, was much easier said than done. At the time, she was in an abusive marriage and didn’t have much of a support system. That night in hospital, she also made the difficult decision to file for divorce, making her a single mother with just one income to support her and her three children.

“I had my baby girl in October, filed for divorce soon after and that following summer I enrolled at the UW Oshkosh, Fox Cities campus,” she says.

On top of being a full-time student, Emshoff volunteered as a Fox Cities campus ambassador and worked multiple jobs in order to make ends meet. However, she was struggling to financially support herself and her three children alone.

That’s when the Doug and Carla Salmon Foundation stepped in to help.

Theresa Braatz

Theresa Braatz, executive director for the Doug and Carla Salmon Foundation and University services associate for UWO alumni relations, was informed of the challenges Emshoff was experiencing and thought she could benefit from assistance from the foundation.

“To determine if someone is a good candidate for the foundation, we always have an initial interview with the student. Doug and I actually met with Rachel and interviewed, and she most definitely was a great candidate,” Braatz says. “She was one of the most organized students I’ve ever seen—living on minimal funds, working, going to school, and raising her children by herself. Just a wonder woman. Not only that, but also, we saw tremendous potential in her. We knew she could be a nurse and be good at it.”

Emshoff and family on her graduation day

After meeting Emshoff, the foundation offered to provide her financial assistance in the form of scholarships as needed throughout her college career. Emshoff considers the foundation’s assistance to be nothing short of a blessing.

“The foundation helped me tremendously,” she says. “I went from barely being able to provide food or even buy diapers for my kids to gaining my independence, an education and being able to provide for my kids. They gave me scholarships throughout my college education that made going to college possible and affordable. What they do is so encouraging for the community and demonstrates incredible kindness.”

The Doug and Carla Salmon Foundation, a supporting organization within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, provides 50 need-based college scholarships to highly motivated students at UWO, Fox Valley Technical College and Lakeland University every year. These scholarships are designed to help students who are at high risk of dropping out due to financial reasons. The foundation also provides financial support to local qualifying charitable organizations.

Rachel Emshoff

With support from the foundation, Emshoff was able to focus more on her studies and work harder toward her goal of becoming a nurse. She eventually transferred to the Oshkosh campus to finish out her degree and, after years of hard work and dedication, earned a bachelor’s in nursing in 2016.

After graduating, her dream of becoming a nurse became a reality. She started her career in women’s health and has been working in the field ever since.

The Doug and Carla Salmon Foundation could not be more proud of all that she has accomplished. “When I first met her, her goal was to become a labor and delivery nurse and I’m really pleased to say that after all those years of schooling, that is what she did right out of college. She’s achieved everything we knew she could achieve and more,” Braatz says.

Emshoff has since moved to Warner Robins, Georgia, where she is practicing nursing remotely from home. She has remarried and is now a mother of six.

“It’s crazy but I wouldn’t change a thing. I love my big family and they bring so much joy to my life. I also feel like the hardship made me stronger and gave me determination to become a better person and be able to provide for my kids,” she says.

“I thank the Salmon Foundation for greatly bettering my life and helping me to be a positive role model for my kids. Now my dream is to help others in life.”

Through the generosity of people, businesses and organizations passionate about helping students achieve their education dreams, we have more than $1 million in scholarships available each year to students from 60 schools, available for high school seniors, college and nontraditional students and K-12 art and music camps and lessons.  See the Scholarship Recipient List for 2020 – 21, and learn more about creating a scholarship fund.

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