Clausen Family Education for Service Scholarship Changes Lives, Strengthens Communities
Through the Clausen Family Education for Service Scholarship, first-generation students, like Deanna Schaffer, can receive a full-tuition award to attend BVU based on their academic achievements and service-oriented work.
Deanna Schaffer gets goosebumps describing the road she’s taken to and through BVU. She’s not alone on this journey.
“I am working hard at BVU because it is not only changing my life, it’s changing the lives of my family members,” says Schaffer, a sophomore from Alta. “I know there will be many tears when I graduate. There were when I received this scholarship, which made it all possible.”
The Clausen Family Education for Service Scholarship, which Schaffer receives, is a full-tuition award based on Schaffer’s academic accomplishments, her service-oriented work, and the fact she’s in the first generation of her family to attend college.
The program, which, in its entirety, currently impacts more than two dozen BVU students from Buena Vista County, is strengthened in part through a previous gift of $1 million from Doug and Joanie Clausen, Storm Lake residents who have directed the expansion of their family-owned VT Industries, headquartered in nearby Holstein.
“The Education for Service Scholars Program is a support system as I meet other first-generation college students who are going through some of the same things as me and my family. Not only did the program give me the opportunity to attend BVU, it is shaping me to become an influential and progressive member of the community.”
Deanna Schaffer, BVU sophomore
Doug serves as Chairman and CEO of VT, which was founded by his father, the late Roger Clausen, in 1956. The company, a world leader in the manufacturing of architectural wood doors, laminate and wood countertops, and more, for residential and commercial buildings, employs 2,000 people in 15 facilities across North America.
“We’re very grateful to be in a position to help students through the Education for Service Scholarship,” Doug says. “Education was very important to my parents as they were the first members of their families to earn a college diploma. This scholarship represents one way in which our family can help others within our extended community.”
Roger Clausen graduated from the University of Denver, while his wife, Rosemary, graduated from Briar Cliff University. The family has provided scholarships for students attending Briar Cliff and Creighton University, Doug’s alma mater. The Education for Service Scholars Program, which began two years ago, held incredible appeal for Joanie and Doug, a BVU Trustee since 2006.
“It is wonderful to be able to impact the lives of students and BVU in this way,” Doug says. “We see it as an investment in rural Iowa, specifically Northwest Iowa, where BVU continues to shape lives.”
Schaffer was about to graduate from Alta-Aurelia in 2019 when she learned she could serve her community in 300 hours of work annually through the AmeriCorps program in exchange for tuition, an effort now supported in part by the Clausen family.
“As a fifth-grader I began dreaming about college,” Schaffer says. “Without the Education for Service Scholarship, I don’t know where I would be.”
Schaffer wouldn’t be sitting idle. The psychology major milks cows near Aurelia, and makes sandwiches at Subway in Storm Lake. Her AmeriCorps service sees the social innovation minor reading to kindergarten students at Storm Lake Elementary School.
“The Education for Service Scholars Program is a support system as I meet other first-generation college students who are going through some of the same things as me and my family,” she says. “We have advisors that meet with us one-on-one every other week. Not only did the program give me the opportunity to attend BVU, it is shaping me to become an influential and progressive member of the community.”
For years, the Clausen Family Foundation has helped demonstrate the role of the family, and the value of education, throughout the community; whether it be in the form of college scholarships for the children of VT employees, or the Rosemary Clausen Performing Arts Center, a signature community facility at Ridge View High School in Holstein—an effort that began with a $500,000 lead gift from the Foundation.
“The Education for Service Scholarship at BVU aligns so well with our family,” Joanie Clausen says. “And the important work these young people are doing through the AmeriCorps program will only strengthen the communities that have helped our family-run business thrive.”
“College is hard, but I’m pushing my way through it,” Schaffer says. “In the long run, the work will pay off. I motivate myself by imagining my parents and grandparents on my graduation day at BVU. They’re all going to cry.”
With a smile, and goosebumps, she says, “And so will I.”