UW-Marshfield/ Wood County grad Graham Pearce wins national scholarship

For Graham Pearce, the May commencement ceremony at the University of Wisconsin-Marshfield/Wood County brought a big surprise.

UW Colleges and UW-Extension Chancellor Cathy Sandeen announced at the event that Pearce has been named a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholar. Pearce will receive up to $40,000 per year (for up to three years) toward tuition, living expenses, books, and fees when he continues his studies at University of Wisconsin-Madison this fall.

“We are grateful to the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation for recognizing a promising UW Colleges transfer student with this prestigious national award,” Sandeen said. “Graham Pearce was the very first student I got to know when I began my position as chancellor a year and half ago. He has impressed us all with his intelligence, hard work, and commitment to service. This generous scholarship will ensure that Graham can focus on his studies when he transfers to UW-Madison in the fall and become as successful as we know he will be.”

Learn more about Graham and many other students' journeys through UW Colleges in our 2016 commencement video.

Pearce graduated last month, earning an Associate of Arts and Sciences degree with a mathematics emphasis. He intends to study business at UW-Madison.

Pearce is among 75 scholars nationally—and the only one from Wisconsin—selected to receive this year’s scholarships on the basis of academic achievement, leadership, service, and other factors. He’s the first UW Colleges student to receive the award.


Grahm and Cathy shake hands

Pearce has been active in student government, serving as UW-Marshfield/Wood County Student Senate president, president of the UW Colleges Student Governance Council, and chair of UW Student Representatives—which includes student leaders from across the UW System—for 2016-2017.

He also has tutored peers in math, co-edited the Insight campus newspaper, sung with campus choral groups, and co-owned custom woodwork and solar businesses. He’s a member of Marshfield Young Professionals, and received the UW-Marshfield/Wood County Recognition of Meritorious Achievement in Mathematics and the UW Colleges Lee Grugel Memorial Leadership Award in 2015.

Pearce’s years at UW-Marshfield/Wood County represented his first time in a classroom, having been homeschooled his whole life previously. Despite some initial nerves though, Pearce looks back on his time at UW Colleges as inspirational, a sentiment exemplified by his many accomplishments.

“Even more than most people I started college as an adult, so I had no idea what to expect,” says Pearce. “It’s been absolutely transformational…all of these things together have significantly changed the course of my life”.