Through his dying wish, Dale Schroeder sent 33 Iowans to college, including 10 Hawkeyes.
PHOTO COURTESY STEPHEN V. NIELSEN
Dale Schroeder, pictured
here on a rare vacation to
Branson, Missouri, gave his
life savings to help rural
Iowans go to college.
Dale Schroeder grew up without a father during the Great Depression. For most of his young life,
he couldn't afford a bed, let alone a college education.
Schroeder, a carpenter who worked for 67 years at Moehl Millwork in Des Moines, lived
frugally until his death in 2005 at age 86. He left behind two pairs of jeans, a rusty truck, and one generous
bequest that would forever change the lives of 33 Iowans.
According to his lawyer, Stephen V. Nielsen (88BA), Schroeder had saved nearly $3 million to help
disadvantaged small-town Iowa students pay for college at one of the state's three public universities. "For him
to have that kind of vision and put this plan in place was just extraordinary," says Nielsen. "You don't hear a
story like this every day."
From 2005 to 2019, the Dale Schroeder Memorial Scholarship enabled 33 Iowans from towns with
populations under 10,000 to attend the University of Iowa, Iowa State, or the University of Northern Iowa.
Many of the recipients were first-generation college students. "There's no way Dale would ever know any of
these kids," says Nielsen. "He was helping total strangers and trusting [the scholarship committee] to make
good selections for him."
Every summer, Dale's Kids—as the scholarship recipients are known—gather at a restaurant in Johnston,
Iowa, to support one another and exchange stories of inspiration. This past July, the meeting also garnered
international media attention, including a segment on NBC's Today with Hoda and Jenna.
Although it was the last year of the scholarship, the impact of Schroeder's gift 15 years earlier continues
to be seen. "I reflect back on how lucky I was to find Dale's scholarship and the wonderful people he trusted
with his legacy often," says Tanysha Truax (16BA), who's now a practicing therapist. "I know that I wouldn't
be where I am now without it and the experiences it afforded me."
How Schroeder's scholarships changed the lives of 10 University of Iowa students and alumni
- Lisa Pelzer Asman (12BS) grew up on a farm in Armstrong as one of
five children who "knew that if we wanted to go to college or pursue any
dream, we had to make it happen for ourselves." When Asman's mother was
diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2010, the scholarship enabled
Asman to continue school while traveling on weekends to Rochester,
Minnesota, for her mom's treatment. The UI integrated physiology graduate
is now an optometrist in Ankeny, Iowa.
- Julia Grover Christ (15BSE), of Independence, graduated from Iowa
with a degree in biomedical and cellular engineering and works as a
research assistant in the lab of James McNamara, UI associate professor of
- Jenna Herr (13BBA), of Centerville, grew up in a single-parent home
after her mother was incarcerated and became a mom herself at age 16.
With the mentorship of the scholarship committee, Herr became a first generation
college graduate and now works as a senior risk and compliance
specialist at the Kearney management consulting firm in Chicago.
- Blake Johnson (16BS), of Strawberry Point, who graduated from the
UI with a degree in human physiology, is an MD and PhD student at Johns
Hopkins University in Baltimore, where he works in a research lab.
- Benjamin Kopp (12BSE, 17MBA, 17MD), of Anita, whose mom died
when he was 13 after a 10-year battle with cancer, says the scholarship
showed him "the enormous impact one person with little education and a
modest income can have by living for others." He is currently in his third of
five years of orthopedic surgery residency at the University of Texas-Austin.
- Grant Lehmann, a UI College of Dentistry student from Hampton, is
chair of the Iowa American Student Dental Association and treasurer of the
Class of 2021.
- Kayla Hoogendoorn Myers (17MPH, 17PHR) of Sheldon, a UI
public health and pharmacy alumna, is a resident in emergency medicine at
Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
- Joseph Reed (18BS), of Sumner, graduated from the UI with a degree in
- Tanysha Truax (16BA), of Newhall, was raised in a single-parent
household and never thought she'd be able to afford college. Now she holds
degrees from the University of Iowa and Vanderbilt University and recently
began practicing as a therapist. "The UI offered so many opportunities that
I would've never had access to otherwise," she says. "I was able to travel,
work, play, gain lifelong friends, and learn more about myself in those four
years. None of this would have been possible without Dale Schroeder's
- Katelyn Wheeldon (16BBA), of Sigourney, a first-generation college
student whose family struggled financially after a fire nearly destroyed
their scrap metal and used car business, is now a financial and accounting
consultant at Riveron business advisory firm in Chicago.