Kedrowski-Fitzgerald family funds new Legacy of Heroines scholarships

CATEGORIES: May 2020, Voices
Karen Kedrowski with her family on her son’s college graduation day. May 2019.
Karen Kedrowski (left) with her family on her son’s college graduation day in May 2019.

The family of Karen Kedrowski, director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, and Timothy Fitzgerald, Kedrowski’s late husband, has funded two new scholarships through the Legacy of Heroines scholarship program, which is administered through the Catt Center.

The Kedrowski and Fitzgerald Family Legacy of Heroines Scholarship will be awarded to two students per year for the next five years, beginning with the 2020-21 academic year. In awarding the scholarships, preference will be given to students majoring in political science, history, French, music or chemical engineering, or students from Minnesota, Massachusetts or South Carolina. The one-year scholarships are renewable for additional years if the recipients continue to meet the criteria of the award.

Kedrowski decided to fund the scholarship as a way to “pay it forward” for the support she has received from the Iowa State community and beyond since becoming Catt Center director in January of 2019.

“My family and I were simply overwhelmed by the generosity and love shown to us by family and many long-time friends living around the country—and our new friends in Iowa. I am especially grateful for the support and flexibility shown to me by my colleagues in the Catt Center, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the Department of Political Science. My children and I know that we can’t repay these many kindnesses, so we look to make the world better for others,” Kedrowski said.

In addition to supporting students interested in the political process and civic engagement, Kedrowski chose the scholarship criteria based on the areas of study and the home states of her husband, two children and herself.

“We wanted to fund students who represent some portion of our family history, either our fields of study, our birthplaces or our shared love of music,” said Kedrowski.

The Legacy of Heroines program aims to provide supplemental leadership and mentoring activities throughout the year in addition to the selected students’ chosen fields of study. With the Kedrowski-Fitzgerald scholarships, the Catt Center has awarded 26 donor-funded scholarships for the 2020-21 academic year, chosen from 122 applicants.

“Scholarships are a critical way of supporting student success at Iowa State, and the Catt Center is proud to administer the Legacy of Heroines scholarship program,” said Sue Cloud, communications specialist for the Catt Center and administrator of the scholarship program.

“The students selected for scholarships come from majors and colleges across the university, but they all share in their desire to learn more about and participate in the political process to make a positive change in the world,” Cloud said.

Prior to her arrival at Iowa State, Kedrowski was a Distinguished Professor of political science at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and executive director for the university’s Center for Civic Learning and co-director of its John C. West Forum on Politics and Policy. Kedrowski had also previously served as Winthrop’s dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and as chair of the Department of Political Science at Winthrop.

Since her arrival at Iowa State, Kedrowski has been a leader in coordinating civic engagement activities and opportunities on campus, as well as speaking about Catt, the suffrage movement and voting rights history for campus organizations and groups around the state.

She advises Vote Everywhere, a student organization working on civic engagement initiatives year round, with a special focus on registering people to vote during election season. She is collaborating with the other members of the Big XII Conference on the Big XII Voting Challenge, a friendly competition to promote nonpartisan civic engagement and voter outreach.

Iowa State also participates in the Voter Friendly Campus Initiative, the All In Campus Democracy Challenge, and the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement.

“A healthy democracy requires engaged citizens from many walks of life. The Legacy of Heroines program brings together students from all over campus to participate in civic engagement and to become empowered in our political process,” said Kedrowski.