Sunday, Dec. 30, was an unforgettable day of new beginnings as the Minnesota Vikings defeated the Green Bay Packers in a thrilling "buzzer-beater" field goal to secure the victory and send them to a new season in the NFL playoffs. And thanks to the Vikings, it was also a new beginning for one special fan in attendance, Claire Mastel.
Dec. 30, on the Mall of America Field flanked by former Vikings and UND football star Jim Kleinsasser and wife Christa, this year's Vikings and "UND and Me" academic scholarship recipient, Claire Mastel, was awarded a $10,000 "big check" to officially begin her educational journey at the University of North Dakota.
A current resident of Elk River, Minnesota, Claire was selected from a highly competitive group of top students from across the country, as well as international applications. As Claire stood on the Mall of America field, holding that giant check with her name on it, surrounded by her family, she felt very fortunate in many ways. With funding for her first year of school at UND secured, she's grateful she'll be able to focus completely on her studies.
As a survivor of a life-threatening accident, Claire has seen more than her fair share of setbacks in her young life. And much like last year's recipient, Jacob Greenmyer, a North Dakota native, Claire is inspired to pursue a career in medicine. This inspiration comes from the expertise and kindness she was shown by the medical staff and physicians that attended to her during her recovery. With the University of North Dakota having the state's only medical school, the pursuit of medicine is a common goal of many students at UND.
"Attending the University of North Dakota after high school is a no-brainer, given my interest in medicine," said Claire. "I want to earn my degree from a place where I will not only receive a wonderful education but will also learn compassion."
Claire identifies one physician in particular, Dr. Cole, as being someone who had the greatest impression on her with his untiring care for her during her recovery. According to Claire, pursuing a career in medicine will afford her the opportunity to help others like Dr. Cole. "One day, I want to change someone's life, too," said Claire.
Joining Claire on the Mall of America Field for the scholarship presentation, were Jim and Christa Kleinsasser, Claire's sister, Kate (a UND senior in the Nursing program), and parents, Paula and Greg Mastel. The scholarship attracted applicants from 32 states coast to coast, as well as international applications. The majority of applications came from Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin. However, the selection of the scholarship recipient was location agnostic. In the end, Claire was selected based on her full body of academic and community work, including high school GPA, standardized test scores, extracurricular activities, and a personal statement highlighting her career goals, achievements, how she overcame adversity and what the opportunity to study at UND specifically, would mean to her future.
Tim DeBolt, MBA
Director, UND Marketing Group
2013 Vikings Scholarship winner, Claire Mastel, was awarded the $10,000 "big check" by Christa and Jim Kleinsasser