"The greatest Christmas gift I got was opening that letter," says Wallis Cale, quality systems director at the Minnesota Lions Eye Bank, a nonprofit organization that is one of the world's largest providers of corneas for transplant and ocular tissue for research.
That letter announced Cale as one of the ten inaugural winners of the 2010 Carlson Executive Education scholarship, a program designed to offer assistance to small companies, nonprofit organizations, and entrepreneurs that need additional business knowledge to overcome challenges or capitalize on opportunities. Cale, along with the other winners, received 100 percent funding for a Carlson Executive Education open enrollment program, a value of $3,500.
Cale's road to the scholarship started with the CEO of the Eye Bank prompting her to explore education options that would enhance her finance aptitude.
"Nonprofits today have to know the true cost of doing their nonprofit business," explains Cale. "I was asked to learn more about finance to ensure that when there were new surgery techniques coming along and we had to respond to changes happening, we could quickly see the costs."
She went online to the Carlson Executive Education website and discovered the perfect class: Finance for Non-Financial Managers. But what she also saw on the website was the opportunity for a scholarship.
"I thought, what a great fit. So I applied just keeping my fingers crossed," she says.
"Wallis wrote an inspiring and convincing application as to how the Minnesota Lions Eye Bank would benefit from her taking an Executive Education class," says Mark Kizilos, assistant dean of Carlson Executive Education. "It was exactly the kind of applicant we intended for this scholarship and we were pleased to have Wallis attend one of our classes on a full scholarship."
Cale was pleased as well, as she found exactly what she was seeking to gain--finance experience.
"[The instructors] made it very clear to me that, Oh my gosh, this isn't as tough as I thought it was," she says. "They gave us tools as well--spreadsheets to step us through how we evaluate a project and how we get down to exactly the cost of everything, how we understand exactly where the money is coming from and how it's going to be spent. I have a lot more confidence that I can do these things."
Back at her office, Cale has been an advocate for Carlson Executive Education.
"Carlson has a reputation and it's justified. I've been telling everybody here to look to see what courses are offered and apply, because it was just wonderful."
For more information on the scholarship, please visit the Carlson Executive Education scholarship website. Please note, the application window for the 2011 scholarship is now closed.
2010 scholarship recipients were: Atomic Learning, Belgrade Coop Association, Clinical Supplies Management, CLUES, CoreSpine Technologies, Engineered Products, Jungle Theater, Minnesota Lions Eye Bank, Netgain Technology, and PlastiComp.