McHenry family establishes Science Matters Scholarship Fund at FACF

Science Matters, a new scholarship being offered by the Fort Atkinson Community Foundation, is now available to graduating seniors at Fort Atkinson High School, thanks to the kindness of the McHenry family of Fort Atkinson.  (Pictured here are two of the McHenry kids – Rebecca and Matt)

The Science Matters Scholarship Fund was opened at the Community Foundation earlier this year by the McHenry family whose children all received scholarships from the Community Foundation upon graduating from Fort Atkinson High School. Their generous gift to establish this new scholarship fund was matched by Rebecca McHenry’s employer, Microsoft.

The purpose of this new fund is to provide financial assistance to graduating seniors at Fort Atkinson High School who plan to pursue an undergraduate degree in research science, technology, engineering, mathematics or computer science. Pre-medical or nursing-related degrees are not eligible for this scholarship. Special consideration will be given to individuals from groups currently underrepresented in STEM fields.

Eligible students must, at the time of application, have completed at least one Advanced Placement course in either math, science or computer science and must be planning to pursue a degree in research science, math, technology, engineering, or computer science at a four-year, degree-granting college or university or pursue a liberal arts transfer program at a vocational/technical college with the intention of transferring to a four-year degree granting university. Financial need is not required for this scholarship but can be considered by the selection committee.

All three McHenry children – Beth, Matt, and Rebecca – pursued undergraduate degrees in the STEM fields.

Beth McHenry Cole studied Interdisciplinary Science (biology and chemistry) and English at Lawrence University. She now works as a program manager at Macmillan Learning, where she publishes university chemistry textbooks.

Matt McHenry and his wife, Ramya McHenry Ramesh, met while studying engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Ramya now works as a technical program manager at Amazon, and Matt is employed as a senior software engineer at Duolingo, a foreign language learning platform.

Becca McHenry graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in computer science. After graduation, she moved to Seattle and now works as a software engineer for Microsoft.

When asked about the impetus behind the scholarship, Becca explained, “there tends to be a perception that some people just aren’t capable of working in sciences. I don’t think that’s true. Anyone with an interest and drive can succeed in a STEM field. There are a lot of cool jobs that aren’t about calculus equations. Instead they need creativity and curiosity.”

The family’s goal is to encourage more students to pursue opportunities in STEM careers, especially students who might feel as if they don’t belong in that field. “When I was in high school,” Becca noted, “I received a lot of encouragement for STEM, especially from Mr. Johnson’s computer science program. Without that support, I doubt I would be working in STEM now. I’d like this scholarship to be an opportunity to encourage other students in the same way.”

This theme of ‘paying it forward’ is equally important to her brother Matt. “My sisters and I were each fortunate to receive scholarships from the Fort Atkinson Community Foundation when we graduated,” he noted. “Having that resource was invaluable in our educations. We wanted to give back to the Foundation both as a way of saying thank you for their role in our own lives, as well as to help ensure others get the same opportunities that we had. The variety and quality of scholarships available in Fort Atkinson is a special situation most communities don’t have, and we’re excited to be a small part of it.”

Community Foundation Chairman Chris Rogers was delighted by the gift. “How wonderful is that! To have former scholarship recipients, who have moved up, up and away, remember their hometown and work to open doors for those following behind. It’s just heart-warming.”

The selection of recipients for the scholarship will be based on the applicant’s demonstrated interest in science, the content of the application, academic record, especially in math and science courses, and the applicant’s prospect of success in college.

The total amount to be awarded for the 2018-19 school year is $1,000 and payment of the scholarship will be made in one year.

Interested applicants should visit the Community Foundation’s website,, and follow the links to the scholarship pages. Here applicants will be guided to Fort Scholarships, the Foundation’s online scholarship application website, which will walk them through the application process.

The deadline for receipt of completed applications is Feb. 15, 2018.

For more information about this new scholarship, or about any of the scholarships offered by the Fort Atkinson Community Foundation, contact program administrator Sue Hartwick at (920) 563-3210 (office), (920) 222-1191 (mobile) or via email at