RUSH CITY, Minn. (KMSP) - A generous Minnesota entrepreneur has offered seniors at Rush City High School a life-changing graduation gift.
Local entrepreneur and business executive Dennis Frandsen offered all 59 Rush City High School seniors a two-year all expenses paid scholarship to Pine Technical and Community College.
“I encourage you to take me up on it,” Frandsen said to the students at a Friday morning assembly. “I’m delighted to provide it for you.”
While some of the seniors planned to go to college before the generous gift was offered, it wasn’t a possibility for all of them.
Rush City senior Brodie Wolf would like to be a welder.
“I’m just thankful for it—it’s so—I wasn’t even thinking I was going to college,” Wolf said. “This opportunity is insane.”
Frandsen himself never graduated from college, but built an incredibly successful business empire based primarily north of the Twin Cities metro in banking, finance and manufacturing.
He has raised four children in the Rush City area and on a recent visit to Pine Technical and Community College, he observed its professional training programs. That’s when it hit him how he could build an even stronger community and enhance the local workforce.
He decided the best way to do that was by giving this year’s graduates the opportunity to get ahead, without immediately getting saddled with college debt.
“You get out of high school—what are they going to do?” Frandsen said. “They need to have a skill. They need to learn what they are good at—figure out what they are good at—and then go down that road.”
Many of the students have jumped at the priceless graduation gift.
“It would be almost dumb not to take this opportunity,” Cecilia Peterson said. “It’s close to home—it just made sense.”
“I think it’s awesome,” Taylor Williams said excitedly. “All of us don’t have enough money. So it’s awesome to do it for all of us.”
Dalton Mielke said the opportunity to focus on college classes, instead of worrying about how he’d pay for college is a gift he’s grateful for.
The students will have dozens of options at Pine Technical and Community College, from liberal arts and general education credits, to a nursing career track, to robotics and even cyber security.
College administrators said the scholarships on average are worth about $5,000 annually, depending on what the students choose to study.
“He’s doing this because it’s the right thing to do,” Joe Mulford with Pine Tech and Community College. “He believes in Rush City and east central Minnesota.”
The Frandsen Family Foundation will donate an additional $1,000 for books, tools and supplies.
Frandsen said providing students with a gift like this isn’t “rocket science.”
“For me to do it—I am fortunate at my age and that I have done well with my businesses,” he said. “What am I supposed to do with my assets?”