Luther College senior Katrina Okerstrom has been awarded a $30,000 graduate fellowship from the R.J. McElroy Trust.
Okerstrom, daughter of Julia Thomas of Decorah, and Lee Okerstrom of Oak Grove, Minn., will pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience at the University of Iowa. She is majoring in psychology and biology, and minoring in classics at Luther. Okerstrom is a 2010 graduate of Spring Lake Park High School in Spring Lake Park, Minn.
"With my graduate degree and continued research, I desire to develop an expertise in my area of research and to shed light on a piece of the puzzle that is the human mind, in hopes to better understand ourselves and others," said Okerstrom.
Nine schools in Northeast Iowa may submit one candidate for the McElroy Trust. From those nine, six finalists were selected and Okerstrom was one of two to be awarded the fellowship.
The fellowships, which carry a stipend of up to $30,000 paid over three years, were established by the McElroy Trustees in 1983 and are designed to encourage persons of accomplishment, intelligence, integrity and leadership ability to pursue challenging academic careers.
In making the nominations, David L. Tiede, Luther College president, praised Okerstrom's academic and leadership accomplishments.
"Katrina Okerstom's leadership both in the classroom and in the community display her promise as a teacher and her passion for exploring the mysteries of the human mind. Her Luther College student colleagues and teachers are grateful to the McElroy Trust for recognizing her high potential for making the world a better place," said Tiede.
The McElroy Fellowships were established to support students seeking higher education. The Trust is designed to benefit "deserving young people."
The Trust benefactor, R. J. McElroy was a pioneer broadcaster who started the Black Hawk Broadcasting Company in 1947. He died in 1965.