First Pat Lund Memorial scholarship recipients honored

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(ABC 6 News) – Hannah Higgins and Ryan Jirik were honored Wednesday as the recipients of the inaugural Pat Lund Memorial Scholarship awards.

Pat Lund, who passed away in 2022, was a Reading Center alumnus and fixture in the southeastern MN sports reporting field, didn’t let his dyslexia stop him from achieving his goal of being a sports reporter in southeast Minnesota.

Despite being held back in 1st grade and struggling through high school and college, Pat persevered and worked in his dream career as a sports reporter. Pat didn’t let his dyslexia stop him from achieving his goals.

The Lund family along with The Reading Center, created an annual scholarship in his honor to help dyslexic students reach their post-secondary education goals.

Scholarship recipients will get up to one thousand dollars per year for up to four years.

“It just means a lot knowing that they felt that I was a good representation of what Pat’s legacy was and I’m very grateful to have received this scholarship,” said recipient Ryan Jirik.

Ryan Jirik is soon to be graduate of John Marshall High School in Rochester. He will begin studies in Physical Education and Health at North Dakota State University this fall.

Ryan was involved in The Reading Center’s programming for 7 years. He has developed a positive attitude about his dyslexia saying, “Academics are not easy for everyone, education does not come easy to everyone, but everyone is good at something.”

Ryan is an Eagle Scout and The Reading Center was the benefactor of his skills when he planned, fundraised and built our 8ft. x 10ft. yard shed to store The Reading Center’s outdoor equipment.

Originally from Byron, Hannah Higgins will enter her senior year this fall at University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point where she is studying Wildlife Education. Hannah submitted an engaging video with her scholarship application showcasing her communication and storytelling skills.

Hannah’s love and passion for animals started at a young age. Growing up she cared for many pets and ended her high school career as an intern with Oxbow Park and Hollman Zoo. Following her completion of college, Hannah plans to work in the national resources area with the goal to “inspire other people to protect our natural world and find beauty in our wildlife.” Hannah is a Dean’s list student.

Hannah reflects that her elementary years were “super frustrating” academically and her parents found they needed outside help. In 3rd grade Hannah began tutoring with The Reading Center which she describes as a “turning point in my life”.

She spent 4 years participating in The Reading Center’s classes and 1:1 tutoring. She says having dyslexia has taught her to “never give up no matter what or how big a challenge seemed,” and that having a learning disability “makes me who I am.”