News: Neillsville - Herb Kohl Foundation Scholarship (2018)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Romans, Anderson

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 5/23/2018

2018 Herb Kohl Foundation (Challenge Award - 2018)

Scholarship recipient Moves Ahead Despite Loss

By Scott Schultz

Thomas Romans pulled a funeral prayer card from his wallet and from it recited the words of the poem, After Glow.

It’s important to remember a lost loved one while continuing to forge ahead with life, the 18-year-old Neillsville High School senior said.

Romans will be graduating from high school this weekend with a $10,000 Herb Kohl Foundation Challenge Scholarship in-hand. And, he’ll be doing it while remembering his father, Nicolas Romans, who in February of 2016 died of an accidental drug overdose at age 36 at their family’s home in Milwaukee.

(Place photo of Anderson and Romans in the office)

Neillsville High School senior Thomas Romans, right, shared a laugh with NHS principal Craig Anderson May 18 in Anderson’s office. Romans, who will graduate this weekend, recently received a $10,000 Herb Kohl Foundation Challenge Scholarship for having overcome personal challenges while on his way to graduation. Scott Schultz/The Clark County Press

“He’s an amazing young man,” Neillsville High School principal Craig Anderson said about the graduate.

After his father’s death, Romans and his four younger siblings were sent to live with their aunt in Neillsville.

“When my father died, our family met to talk about what we should do,” Romans said. “My mother wasn’t in the right position to care for all of us, so the family decided it would be best for us to live for a while with our aunt in Neillsville.”

Romans said there was a period of numbness that set upon him that summer, but that something inside told him kept driving him forward.

“When it was fresh in my mind, being 16 at the time, it really was a challenge,” he said.

But drive forward, he did.

When he arrived at Neillsville High School that fall, Romans jumped into school life with both feet.

“He seemed to fit right in,” Anderson said. “It was as though he’d gone to school here for his entire life. He immediately got along well with other students here and started getting involved in school activities.”

Romans wet out for football and, when the track coaches saw that, they asked him to be on the track and field team to put the shot and throw the discus.

He also participated in forensics, qualifying earlier this year for the state competition – earning a silver award.

In the meantime, Romans started working at Shopko in Neillsville.

Besides school and work activities, Romans said he felt the need to be an example for his siblings.

“Being the oldest, I feel as though it’s my job to help watch out for them,” he said.

But, he said, he’s also learned about the importance of balance.

“Balancing home life and school life has been a challenge,” Romans said.

He said that focus led him to this year to have his best grade point average since his freshman year of school at Milwaukee’s Bradley Tech High School.

Anderson said Romans has done well in finding that balance – well enough that a school committee decided earlier this year to nominate him for the challenge scholarship, for which the school is eligible once every seven years.

Romans was among a handful of students from thro0ughout Wisconsin to receive the scholarship. He’ll use it to cover expenses of attending Chippewa Valley Technical College, starting in the fall, to study software development.

“It’s going to cost about $13,000 to get my associate degree, so $10,000 really helps,” he said.

Anderson said it as a pleasure to call Romans into his office to tell him about the scholarship.

“I asked him where he was going to school, and he told me CVTC,” Anderson said. “I asked him whether $10,000 would help him with that, and he just sat there for a while and asked what I meant. He was pretty happy when I explained that he’s be receiving the scholarship.”

While he’ll be moving forward with his education, Romans reiterated that he won’t be leaving behind the loss he’s felt from his father’s death.

“They say that time heals, but that you never forget,” he said.

And then, his voice went firm to recite the poem he’d pulled from his wallet:

I’d like the memory of me to be a happy one,
I’d like to leave an afterglow of smiles when life is done.
I’d like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways
Of happy times and laughing times and bright and sunny days.
I’d like the tears of those who grieve to dry before the sun,
Of happy memories that I leave when life is done.



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