Keith Malueg, a senior at Clintonville High School, has earned a Herb Kohl Educational Foundation Initiative Scholar award.
The award comes with a $1,000 scholarship to the college of his choice.
Malueg had to overcome several obstacles during his high school career—including homelessness.
“During my junior year, I struggled with homelessness,” said Malueg. “I was able to stay with my church’s youth leaders, Bruce and Julie Cunliffe. They were there for me whenever I needed anything.”
Another part of Malueg’s struggle came from having to move four times in the last four years. This led to academic struggles, but Malueg worked hard to overcome those struggles with help from friends, teachers, mentors and school administrators.
“I fell behind a little bit with my school work,” said Malued. “But I had lots of help from the Cunliffes. My friends really encouraged me a lot and they were always there to talk to. Thomas Holbrook and Matt Mielke really encouraged me when I was struggling. They’re great friends to hang out with. Mr. Heyer (high school band director) really helped me a lot with many of my projects and assignments. He allowed me to use the Mac Lab at school whenever I needed to.
“Principal (Lance) Bagstad also helped me quite a bit when I moved out of the district. He helped make it possible for me to continue to stay in school here in Clintonville,” said Malueg.
Bagstad said helping Malueg stay in the district was very important to his educational growth.
“Keith struggled with a number of non-school issues throughout his high school career that we were aware of,” said Bagstad. “When circumstances made it necessary for him to move, we were able to do certain things to help him remain with us in the district.
“This district was his home and he was prospering here,” explained Bagstad. “We knew that if he could stay that it would benefit him and would be beneficial for his future. We used the resources we had and found ways to make that happen. It was the right thing to do, and Keith continued to prosper and has taken advantage of the opportunities that he has had at Clintonville High School.”
Malueg has certainly made the most of those opportunities. He has participated in Forensics, band, choir, and drama, building valuable friendships with students and teachers along the way.
High School Guidance Counselor Paul Huettner has seen both the trials and triumphs Malueg has experienced, and chose to nominate Malueg for the award.
“Keith Malueg is one of the most resilient teenagers I have known,” said Huettner. “In spite of the challenges he has faced, he has found a great deal of academic success. He remains a humble individual and has a positive attitude.
“I’ve know way too many students with similar life circumstances who have just given up on school or become extremely angry and bitter individuals,” added Huettner. “Keith has the strength of character to work through the obstacles in his life and continue to work to achieve his goals. I have really enjoyed getting to know Keith over the last four years and I am extremely happy for him.”
Malueg offered insightful advice to students who find themselves facing adversity during their high school years.
“Keep looking towards the future,” said Malueg. “Your past really doesn’t matter but if you look to the future, set a goal, and keep running towards it, things will get better.”
After graduating this spring, Malueg plans to attend the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater to study media arts and game development.