Don’t assume you need to fit a mold to win a Hecht college scholarship

It’s a $5,000 college scholarship that’s not just for highly involved students with top grades.

The Hecht Family Memorial College Scholarship Fund committee, which has strong Hecht family representation, wants to live up to Harry Hecht’s wishes, and he wanted it to go to someone in need. The fund gives out $5,000 scholarships and is administered by the Jewish Community Foundation of Milwaukee Jewish Federation.

Betsy Kerns, granddaughter of the man who initiated the scholarship, has served on the committee since its inception.

Harry Hecht and his three boys, Stuart, Richard and Jordan. The Hecht family created the Hecht Family Memorial College Scholarship Fund.

“It was really important to him, the financial need,” she recalled. “He really wanted to make a difference in somebody’s life.”

This is why she hopes to cast a wider net. Some applicants have tended to come from families in a relatively good financial position. Her message today: If you’re in need, apply.

After need, the secondary criteria are good grades and community involvement.

Recipient Lauren Stein, who has Asperger syndrome and is pursing art in college, is an embodiment of the idea that you don’t need to fit a mold to win this scholarship.

“I think the scholarship is an amazing thing. I think it really helped take the stress off of us and her,” said Marty Stein, who added that special needs can make everything more costly – from special driving instructors to various kinds of therapists, tutors and more. Lauren’s interest in art, which the Steins want to encourage, is also costly.

In addition to the financial boost, the gift offers a feeling of support from the Jewish community.

“Breathing room,” Stein said. “It was definitely appreciated.”

The scholarship is for Jewish high school seniors to help fund the college freshman year. Awards are based on financial need, academic performance and community service. Applicants must be residents of the Milwaukee metropolitan area. There can be multiple recipients in a single year.  For students beginning their freshmen year in the fall of 2020, applications are due March 18, 2020.

To apply, visit MilwaukeeJewish.org/Scholarships.