Peru State College
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News Release

Peru State Awards Four Full Tuition Scholarships to Community Leaders Enrolled in Online Masters Degree in Organizational Management


(Peru, Neb.) Peru State College (PSC) President Stan Carpenter today announced that four community leaders from across Nebraska have been awarded full tuition scholarships to complete the college’s online Master of Science degree in organizational management with a concentration in entrepreneurial and economic development.


The degree is designed to prepare students to be effective change agents in order to create more entrepreneurial corporate cultures, start their own businesses and/or facilitate growth in their communities. The program is available entirely online and can be completed in two to three years. The scholarships are funded through the Selective Entrepreneurial and Economic Development (SEED) Scholarship Program.


Carpenter said, “The SEED Scholarship Program was developed because we understand the need to support the development of leaders, particularly in Nebraska’s rural communities. We also recognize that any time there is an opportunity to spur economic growth in this state we must take it. These scholarships are our contribution to a larger effort to revitalize the state’s economic landscape.


“Overall, we could not be more thrilled with the outpouring of support we have received for this program by members of Nebraska’s business community and economic development leaders. The recipients of these scholarships are among a group of highly-skilled, highly-talented individuals who serve their communities with distinction.”


The SEED Scholarship will fund up to 36 hours of graduate online tuition (a value of nearly $7,500) for individuals who have demonstrated leadership skills and a record of success in one or more of the following areas:


  • Successful individual entrepreneurial activity with a vision for further ventures of consequence to a community in Nebraska. Both for-profit and not-for profit ventures were considered.
  • Work toward the development of a Nebraska community or region’s commercial capacity as a formal or informal economic development official, political official or volunteer.
  • Service as a change agent in a corporate or non-profit organization to increase the organization’s capacity to employ and/or serve Nebraskans.


Scholarship winners are listed below alphabetically by hometown along with some brief biographical information.




Marilyn Schlake – Schlake is the associate director of the NebraskaEDGE Program for the Center for Applied Rural Innovation at the University of Nebraska. Schlake directs and manages community-based entrepreneurial training programs, including community organization for entrepreneurial development, training and managing volunteers, and contracting labor to implement training programs. She serves as a resource provider for small business owners and assists in state policy development for microenterprise programs and businesses. Schlake also writes and edits curriculums for small businesses, including national publications.


Schlake earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.




Jennifer Wolf – Wolf is executive director of Dawson Area Development in Dawson County where she coordinates retention and recruitment of business and industry to the area and fosters close relations with county, city and state legislators for economic development purposes.


Wolf has been instrumental in developing and implementing local and regional housing programs for an 18-county area and has prepared and administered Community Development Block Grants with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (NEDED).   


Wolf earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska at Kearney.




Darla Heggem - Haggem is the employee recruitment manager of Twin Cities Development in Scottsbluff. Heggem is currently participating in the P-16 Initiative “Nebraska’s Future: Growing Our Own,” a joint partnership designed to more effectively prepare youth for the workforce. The Initiative is comprised of members from Western Nebraska Community College, the City of Scottsbluff, Gering Public Schools, the Scottsbluff Chamber of Commerce and Twin Cities Development.


Heggem also serves as co-chair of the Scottsbluff Chamber of Commerce’s Business and Education committee where she co-authored a BECA grant for NEXT, a young professional group being formed as a community development strategy to attract and retain diverse young professionals, focusing on professional and social networking, community leadership and mentoring opportunities.


Heggem earned her Bachelor’s degree from Creighton University.




David Simonsen – Simonsen is executive director of Wayne Area Economic Development, Inc. In addition to that role, Simonsen has managed and led the operations of the Wayne Area Chamber of Commerce, Wayne Industries and Main Street Wayne.  He also introduced and implemented an ongoing business retention and expansion program called Synchronist, a first of its kind model in use in the State of Nebraska that is being considered for adoption by other communities and the NEDED.


Simonsen initiated and led the process to achieve the status of Economic Development Certified Community for the City of Wayne as one of only 18 such awards in Nebraska in 2008. He has also successfully secured grants for tourism marketing, rural regional economic development and outreach, entrepreneurial development and community transfer of wealth/planned giving.


Simonsen earned his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa.


For more information on PSC’s Master’s degree in organizational management, visit or contact Graduate Programs Dean Dr. Greg Seay at or 402-872-2283.