Student Voice


December 6, 2023



UW-River Falls students benefit from McDermott Scholarship

November 13, 2015

Jordan Lacher, of Hugo, Minn., and Dana Smith, of Lakeville, Minn., were each recently awarded $3,000 from the annual Mickey McDermott Special Education Scholarship.

Lacher, an elementary education major, said the scholarship has enabled her to focus on her student teaching, and not finances, during a crucial period of her education.

“When I saw I had received the McDermott Scholarship I didn’t believe it at first,” Lacher said. “This covers the remainder of my fall tuition. This scholarship will allow me to focus on meeting the needs of my students and growing as an educator during this semester of student teaching. I am extremely grateful to the donors for this honor.”

Smith recently returned to UW-River Falls to get her licensure to become a Spanish teacher. She graduated with a degree in communicative disorders, Spanish and international studies in 2010 and since returning to UWRF, she’s been balancing work and school. Thanks to the scholarship, she is able to be a full-time student this semester.

“Because I continued working while I returned to school, it has been challenging to plan for a semester of student teaching,” Smith said. “This scholarship makes it possible for me to focus completely on student teaching, and get more from the experience so that I will be prepared to teach.”

The Mickey McDermott Special Education Scholarship was first awarded in 2010 with the mission of financially supporting students with an interest in special education.

McDermott was a longtime resident of New Richmond who taught special education for 30 years and pioneered a teaching program that was a model for schools around the state.

Her niece, Nancy McDermott Fouks, called her aunt a “phenomenal” educator who “changed the lives” of countless students.

“Special education was so important to her,” Fouks said. “She devoted her whole life to it.” Fouks said McDermott would be amazed at all the students her scholarship has aided. “I know she’s up in heaven clapping,” Fouks said.

For more information about the scholarship, contact Larry Solberg, dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies, at 715-425-3774, or