Brian and Lori Hesprich know what it’s like to struggle financially in college.
Brian’s parents couldn’t help with tuition, so he took out loans and worked. Lori’s parents helped, but she still needed loans as well.
Thirty-plus years later, they’re changing that. They’ve endowed a scholarship to help students stay in college and graduate with less debt.“College was a bit of a burden financially for us,” says Brian, ’81, the chief financial officer for Fox River Fiber, where he has worked for 16 years. “I struggled financially.”
Even though he received a small scholarship after high school, Brian worked through college delivering pianos. Lori (Peterson) sent him money after landing her first teaching job following graduation in May 1981 until he received his diploma in December. “For my parents, going to college was important so they sacrificed to help me pay tuition,” explains Lori. She retired in spring 2013 after teaching for 32 years, the last 24 in Green Bay public elementary schools.
Both know the importance of an education. “It got me in the door,” says Brian, who landed his first position as an entry-level accountant. “It gave me a really great base.”
Brian appreciates the general education requirement because it has allowed him to “join in the conversation” socially and at work. “The fact I was given base knowledge was important because I came from a small-town school. It opened my eyes to a lot of things,” he explains. “My education helps me every day I go to work. In some aspect I’m drawing from something I learned 30 years ago at La Crosse.”
That’s why he and Lori want to make a difference. “We talked about that if we ever got into the position that we could help someone financially, we would,” says Brian.
Lori doesn’t want students graduating deeply in debt, or, worse yet, quitting. “We wouldn’t want to see someone quit school or take time off because of financial reasons,” says Lori. “If we can help students avoid that, that’s great. We want to help anybody who’s pursuing a dream.”
Too few get college degrees, says Brian. Their scholarship can change that. “If this helps one more person get a college degree, we think that’s important,” he notes. “We’re investing in someone’s future. It’s a great way to give back.”
The Brian and Lori Hesprich Scholarship Endowment Fund provides at least two $1,000 scholarships annually for full-time sophomores, juniors or seniors with at least a 3.0 GPA and financial need.