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Four Students Awarded Full-Ride Scholarships

Published Monday, February 26, 2024

A sample of the full-ride scholarship certificate
A sample of the full-ride scholarship certificate

Four high-achieving high school seniors were recently awarded full-ride scholarships to Southwest Minnesota State University as part of the President’s Regional Scholars Award program.

Claire Allen from Marshall High School, Ella Knakmuhs from Westbrook-Walnut Grove High School, Danny Rogotzke from Springfield High School, and Naomi Schroeder from Marshall High School will receive full-ride scholarships as they start their academic careers at SMSU in the Fall Semester 2024. The full-ride scholarships are for four years. The students were selected through a combination of their outstanding academic achievements and interviews with SMSU faculty, staff, and finally individual interviews with President Kumara Jayasuriya. Launched in 2019, the Regional Scholars program features six scholarship levels that range from $2,000 to a full ride over four years.

The 2024 Full-Ride Recipients:

  • Claire Allen is the daughter of Cheryl and Scott Allen of Marshall, Minn. She plans to major in accounting or finance when she comes to SMSU in the fall. “I have cousins and friends who go there. They all really enjoy it. The community is what I am looking forward to the most,” Claire said. “It’s nice to know I can focus on school when I get to SMSU.”
  • Danny Rogotzke is the son of Sara and Jim Rogotzke of Springfield, Minn. He plans to major in Exercise Science and go on to become a physical therapist. “The faculty at SMSU are unbelievable. Meeting everyone at Southwest Scholars Day was amazing,” he said. “I am excited to go to a place where the people really seem to care.”
  • Naomi Schoeder is the daughter of Deborah and Roger Schroeder of Marshall, Minn. She plans to major in Culinology® and minor in either business or entrepreneurship. Her goal is to one day own a bakery. “I am excited to stay in town, being close to family and with my friends,” said Naomi. “I’m glad I can go through college not having to worry about paying for it but focusing on my dreams.”
  • Ella Knakmuhs is the daughter of Crystal and Nate Knakmuhs of Walnut Grove, Minn. She plans to major in English Education (Communication Arts and Literature Education, English.) She also wants to participate in the SMSU Choirs.“I’m really looking forward to being part of a community like we have here [at WWG]; everyone shows up, and it’s really tight-knit,” said Ella. “I love that everyone says hi, even if they don’t know you yet, they smile and make eye contact. That’s what makes it really special.”

“The Regional Scholars Award program is intended to bring the best and brightest students from the area to SMSU,” said SMSU President Kumara Jayasuriya. “I was incredibly impressed with these students when I met with each of them individually. We are happy to have them join the Mustang Family.”

For further information about the Southwest Scholars Program, contact the Office of Admission at: 507-537-6286; To learn more about the many ways SMSU is helping students pay for college through grants, scholarships, and other award programs, including free tuition for qualified students, visit

Visit the SMSU YouTube Channel to view the reveal videos for each of this year's recipients. The videos will be posted the week of Feb. 26-March 1 with a new video posted each day:

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