Scholarship helps students continue legacy of public service

May 13, 2014
Scholarship recipients

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — Dr. Peter Kang, University of Wisconsin-Platteville professor emeritus in political science, left a legacy through a life devoted to public service and helping others; now a scholarship established in his name is helping students do the same.

Kang grew up in Korea. After living through a politically tumultuous post World War II era – which not only tore his country apart but also separated him from his family and home – he committed his life to public service and teaching people to live in peace. Kang, a Fulbright Scholar, was a faculty member at UW-Platteville from 1969-97 and chair of the political science department for nine years.

The Dr. Peter Kang Memorial Scholarship for Excellence in Public Service awards two students $2,500 each year. Preference is given to students who have engaged in service learning and volunteer public service.

Adrienne Oldenburg, one of the 2014-15 recipients of the scholarship, has already left an impact on UW-Platteville during her three years on campus. She works for the Pioneer Academic Center for Community Engagement, is president of Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society, a member of Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society and volunteers for the biannual Red Cross Blood Drive.

One of her most enjoyable ways of giving back, she said, is through her work as a resident assistant at Wilgus Hall. “What I like most is being able to help the incoming freshmen with their first year, especially helping them to find different groups to get involved in,” said Oldenburg, a media studies major with minors in business administration and psychology, and native of Galena, Ill.

“Receiving this scholarship definitely inspires me to do more,” she added. “Although I don’t always get rewarded for volunteer work, I know in my heart it feels good. But now that the scholarship is helping me a lot financially, it makes me want to give back even more knowing that those efforts are noticed.”

Oldenburg added that the opportunity to recently meet Kang’s son, Rev. Dr. Sunny Kang, when she was presented the scholarship was rewarding. “I could tell how passionate he is about this scholarship and how much it means to him and his family,” said Oldenburg. “The first thing he said to me was ‘thank you for applying and having an interest in this,’ which meant a lot to me.”

Meaghan McGuire, another 2014-15 recipient of the scholarship is following in the footsteps of Kang not only through her spirit of volunteerism, but also her passion for teaching. The senior broad-field science major from Brodhead, Wis., said she most enjoys volunteering at schools, as she hopes to be a middle school science teacher after graduation – a pursuit the scholarship will help her reach next year.

“The financial support is so helpful and will allow me to focus more, especially in this upcoming year as I’ll be pre-student teaching and student teaching,” explained McGuire. “Having that extra financial support means I’ll spend less time trying to find a part-time job, and I can spend more time working on getting to know my students and coming up with lesson plans and activities.”

In addition to the student scholarships, an annual $1,000 Faculty Professional Development Opportunity Award is given to a faculty member who demonstrates service learning or volunteer public service in their instruction. The 2014-15 recipient is Dr. Sabina Burton, associate professor of criminal justice.

“The award is a great honor and an encouragement for professional development,” said Burton. “I was elated when I heard of my selection to receive the scholarship. It shows me I am on the right track with my efforts. Dr. Peter Kang’s professional and private life was focused on making a difference in this world, to build leaders and empower people to stand up for what is right. I was honored to meet Dr. Kang’s son, Sunny Kang. His work and stories about his father were truly an inspiration.”

Burton said the award will help her to build a working relationship with German police authorities and offer international research and study experiences to UW-Platteville students. “My goal is to provide our criminal justice students opportunities to learn about transnational crimes, such as cyber crime and human trafficking, and to work with foreign police on how to investigate, enforce and prosecute those crimes,” she said.


Written by: Alison Parkins, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1526,


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