Rutledge Scholarship recipients announced

The Fort Atkinson Community Foundation recently awarded three Ralph and Clara Rutledge Memorial Scholarships, totaling $6,500, to former Fort Atkinson High School graduates Eric Bender, Olivia Hartwick and Myles Gasper.

Ralph and Clara Rutledge were long-time residents of the Fort Atkinson area. While they didn’t have children of their own, they lived near the old high school on South High Street and maintained an interest in local students. As part of their estate planning, the Rutledges chose to endow a scholarship fund through the Fort Atkinson Community Foundation.

Rutledge Memorial Scholarships are available to residents of the Fort Atkinson area or graduates of Fort Atkinson High School who are enrolled, or accepted for enrollment, in a graduate program at an accredited college or university, leading to a master’s, doctorate, or a professional degree. The recipient may be a full or part-time graduate student but must be making steady progress toward a degree.
Selection is based on academic achievement, potential for success in their chosen field, community involvement, and citizenship.

For more information about the Rutledge Memorial, or any of the Community Foundation’s other scholarships, contact program administrator, Sue Hartwick, at (920) 563-3210 or via email at

Students earning Rutledge Memorial Scholarships in 2017 are:

Eric Bender

Eric Bender, a 2013 graduate of Fort Atkinson High School, has been awarded a $4,000 Rutledge Memorial Scholarship.

Bender graduated from the University of Minnesota earlier this spring with a degree in biochemistry. This fall he will enroll in the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Dental Medicine to study to become a dentist. He anticipates a graduation date of May 2021.

After dental school, Bender hopes to pursue a general practice residency to strengthen his skills, and then work in private practice in a rural area to serve a community in need.

In the future, he hopes to be able to offer free dental care once a month to those who otherwise could not afford to see a dentist, something he settled on after his experience volunteering at the Union Gospel Mission’s Dental Clinic in Saint Paul and at other free dental care events in the area.

Olivia Hartwick

Olivia Hartwick is the recipient of a $2,000 Rutledge Memorial Scholarship.

A 2010 graduate of Fort Atkinson High School, Hartwick earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in 2014 and a master’s degree in human development from Auburn University in 2016. Her research, academic record and contribution to the school’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies led to her being selected by Auburn University as one of ten outstanding master’s students school-wide for that year.

Now admitted to the Ph.D. program at Auburn, Hartwick is continuing her research into the development of social and emotional skills of preschool children. After earning her degree, she hopes to teach human development at the university level while working with center-based childcare providers to improve curriculum, interaction and opportunities for child growth.

Myles Gasper

Myles Gasper has been awarded a $500 Rutledge Scholarship.

Gasper, a 2011 graduate of Fort Atkinson High School, recently earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering mechanics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In his scholarship application, Gasper noted that the main thing he learned during his undergraduate years as a Badger was that “there is always more to learn.” Therefore, this fall he will be enrolling as a graduate student in the UW’s School of Engineering to pursue a master’s degree in engineering mechanics.

Gasper’s particular field of interest is structural engineering, specifically the area of stress analysis. As an engineering co-op student, he was able to intern for a total of almost two years at UTC Aerospace Systems in Rockford, IL. After earning his master’s degree, he hopes to continue to work in the aerospace industry.