Each degree program at University of Wisconsin-Stout has an advisory committee that works to support and strengthen the programs to improve student experiences and prepare them for their careers. Committee members are alumni, industry professionals and university faculty and staff who care deeply about the success of their students.
The Packaging Advisory Committee supports and promotes the packaging program and strives to make connections with students. Alumnus and committee chair Chad Kreye said, “We want to show them that companies are made up of individuals that walked these very same hallways.”
To continue making connections and building a reputation with students, the PAC established the Packaging Advisory Committee Scholarship Fund in October 2019 through the Stout University Foundation. Since then, 25 of the 30 committee members and their companies have contributed $7,377 to grow the fund.
Meyer receives first scholarship award
Annabelle Meyer, a first-year packaging student from Ellsworth, is the first recipient of a $1,500 scholarship. She found it while searching for other packaging scholarships on the UW-Stout website.
Applicants must be incoming, full-time first-year students in the packaging field who are Wisconsin or Minnesota residents. After finding she met the requirements, Meyer applied. She received the scholarship at the start of the 2020-21 school year during the virtual awards reception.
“This scholarship is helping me greatly. I would encourage others to apply because of the benefits and support the Packaging Advisory Committee has to offer. The time and effort are worth it,” Meyer said.
Kreye, who graduated from the packaging program in 2010, hopes students see the scholarship as an invitation to start a networking relationship with PAC members, on top of the financial support it provides.
“This opens up a great opportunity to stay in touch with some of the top packaging employers, stay current with industry trends and build future business relationships when you’re out in the industry,” he said.
Meyer was invited to meet the committee during her first semester. “This opportunity helped me make connections within the field and also helped me start my journey,” she said.
“Annabelle embodies the characteristics we were looking for in a recipient,” Kreye said. “Someone with curiosity in packaging and how it plays a role in our society. Someone who is determined to work hard and seek a successful career in packaging after Stout. Someone who has demonstrated strong academic performance already and likely will follow that trajectory into the program.”
Hometown ties and more
Kreye is a senior project manager at Target. “What started out as an internal packaging consulting gig to our supply chain team, opened the door to some new roles. I'm now in process design for future capabilities for store replenishment and target.com fulfillment operations. Still leverage my packaging skills, just a new set of problems,” he said.
Coincidentally, Meyer also works at Target. She started there in high school and works part-time during college. Her interests in packaging started while working at Target’s Ship from Store department, where she noticed the positive and negative aspects of packaging.
“It has given me the opportunity to brainstorm new ideas that would make the productivity rates higher and more efficient,” she said.
To discover that Meyer works at Target and is also from his hometown of Ellsworth was very rewarding for Kreye. “It gives me great joy to know that this scholarship can be part of the story of another young person following the same path I chose,” he said.
Protecting and preserving products
When searching for schools, Meyer liked UW-Stout’s polytechnic approach and its nearness to her home. She also wanted to add to her family legacy – her parents, Reid and Jean, and her sister Paige are alumni.
“I chose the packaging program because I want to help develop and produce packages that protect and preserve a product,” Meyer said. “This field will allow me to utilize my hands-on skills, my creative mindset and my problem-solving abilities.
“The packaging program has opened my eyes greatly about why we need this field and how it is growing every day. The instructors, students and the committee all provide exceptional support.”
Kreye believes the packaging field is important because “it is a vehicle that drives initiatives. The package protects the product from damage so the customer can use and enjoy the product as intended. It is a graphics and communication tool used by a company to speak directly to the customer. It represents a company’s values by incorporating recycled materials or innovative features to demonstrate to the customer what differentiates that product from others.”
Meyer hopes to apply her experiences at Target in her packaging degree and then apply her education to the real world.
Although still in her first year, she plans to work for a company in food and specialty packaging in which she can focus on flexible packaging. She’d also like to work with environmentally safe materials in a positive work environment.
“The financial support that has been given to me will make this plan a reality,” she said. “I hope to one day return the favor to someone else.”
“Stout students change the field through the values that Stout instills – hard work, hands-on experience and personal relationships,” Kreye said. “I see Stout changing the industry by launching students into the industry that show up each day and deliver strong results to their organizations, moving the needle on major trends such as e-commerce and sustainable packaging. Stout creates strong professionals who are changing the landscape each day. I believe Annabelle will have a successful career at Stout and beyond.”
UW-Stout is one of only a few schools in the United States, and the only school in the UW System, that offers a bachelor’s degree in packaging. There are more than 28 packaging scholarships available through the University Foundation.
UW-Stout also offers a Dual Level program plan that provides packaging students the opportunity to apply for their master’s in operations and supply management.