Well-rounded student

Kemmesha Thomas stands in a field with another student.Kemmesha Thomas, right, participating in First Year Research Exposure from fall 2016. She received the James R. Parker Scholarship and is one of dozens of students who received a scholarship in April during Eagle Excellence Week.

Scholarships fuel student’s love for research, athletics, identity

UWL sophomore Kemmesha Thomas knows she stands out from her fellow students. “I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a student of color or because I have one arm, but people recognize me,” she says jokingly.

In reality, Thomas is really like most of her peers — busy. The Public Health and Community Health Education major is a heptathlete on the track & field team, does research through the McNair Scholars program and is the events coordinator for Black Student Unity, among other activities.

Thomas prioritizes keeping herself busy because it keeps her focused and motivated. “If I can’t be active and do sports, I get antsy and then distracted when it comes to homework,” she says.

Thomas says scholarships allow her to stay involved on campus without the need of fitting in a job.

She received the James R. Parker Scholarship and is one of dozens of students who received a scholarship in April during Eagle Excellence Week. In total, the Foundation awarded more than $1.1 million in scholarships at five events throughout the week. That number continues to grow as the Foundation moves closer to reaching its “Share the La Crosse Experience” campaign goal.

Thanks to the generosity of donors who set up those funds, students like Thomas are able to enjoy a more well-rounded education. She looks forward to research opportunities and is taking full advantage of learning more about her culture.

It’s a safe bet that Thomas will be back at scholarship events again in the future as she intends to keep applying and making the most of her UWL experience.