One First-Year’s Personal “Greatest Generation”

Madison Van Allen discusses how her grandmother inspired her to become an Alumni Generations Scholar

Jeanne Nagle | January 27, 2020 | Profiles

When it comes to familial influencers, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point first-year student and Alumni Generations Scholar Madison Van Allen couldn’t have picked a better role model than her paternal grandmother, Veda (Eskritt) Van Allen ’45. Madison’s father had long regaled her with tales of Grandma Veda’s adventures and misadventures, such as the time she drove her car until the oil ran dry. “There are so many stories to tell about my grandmother,” says Madison.

Yet Veda had a practical side as well. As a young girl she conscientiously tended to daily chores on the family farm. Later in life, she spent 44 years as the principle caregiver for her daughter, Jacci, who was disabled in a car accident as a teenager. Madison mentions how Veda “always put family first,” even if it meant putting aside her own needs or endangering her own health and well-being.

“Despite the troubles of daily life, she was jubilant and humorous,” Madison wrote of Veda in her scholarship application. “She represented the perfect balance of adulthood mixed with the light-hearted charm of youth—an image I strive for every day.”

The Alumni Generations Scholarship honors legacy students who bear the torch of Pointer Pride passed on to them by family members who have attended/graduated from UWSP. Although she listed a handful of relatives on her scholarship application, Madison clearly feels that she has the deepest connection to her “sassy yet classy” grandmother, who earned a teaching certificate from the school then known as Central State Teachers College.

“My grandmother’s spunk and unbridled passion for life, even in her last days, continues to inspire me to see the best in everything and everyone that life has to offer, and to never let go of your passions, even when life gets complicated,” she says.

One passion that Madison and Veda have in common is singing. The elder woman was famous for harmonizing along with songs she heard on the radio. She had “a musical gift, which I proudly try to uphold,” says Madison, who looks forward to joining one of the vocal ensembles at Point. In fact, it was UWSP’s vibrant performing arts programs that helped convince her to enroll. She also was swayed in her decision by campus size, which is small enough to make her feel “safe,” and the diversity of majors, clubs and activities available to her as a Pointer. She is considering a major in communications, possibly combined with drama.

Madison admits that her decision to attend UWSP was not an immediate one. She had been looking at out-of-state colleges and universities. But Point stayed on her radar thanks to a friend on campus who couldn’t say enough good things about the university. Madison decided to see for herself what all the fuss was about.

“Within two weeks of researching and touring the school, I applied,” she says.

Upon her acceptance to UWSP, Madison went online to search for scholarship opportunities. At first she was reluctant to even apply for an Alumni Generations Scholarship because she only knew of one family connection to the university—Grandma Veda. However, a little extra sleuthing revealed additional relatives who had been Pointers, dating from the 1800s to the early 2000s. “With that information,” she says, “I figured applying for the scholarship wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all!”

Madison is grateful for the financial assistance wrought by the Allen Barrows Estate, as well as the generous alumni who have donated in support of the scholarship. Yet she also holds the spirit of the award itself in high regard.

“As someone who deeply respects the importance of family, the idea of there being a scholarship dedicated solely to appreciating those bonds makes me so happy,” she says.

“In a way, with all of the family members of mine that have passed through these buildings and found themselves along the way, I think that UWSP has become our collective home away from home that we continue to flock to, even centuries later. … I am excited to become part of the legacy that my family has created at this school.”

For more on the Alumni Generations Scholarship, click here.


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