Do Great Things Initiative 2023

Student Signing Day for Marquette and UWGB commitments, scholarships
Posted on 05/25/2023
Charlie, Giselle, Ivan and Derek pose with a DGTI cake at West High School..

Four Green Bay West High School students made their college commitments known during a signing day event on May 24.
Thanks to the generosity of West alumnus Jim Ryan and his wife Tracy, Charlie Brault, Ivan Grant and Giselle Morelos Balbuena were awarded scholarships to attend Marquette University and Derek Thepphone was awarded a scholarship to attend UW-Green Bay.
Jim and Tracy Ryan created the Do Great Things Initiative (DGTI) to encourage and assist West High School students to become college-ready, understand the financial aid available to them, and secure the funding to alleviate their financial gap burden. The DGTI was created in 2021 after the Ryans learned of the limited number of students from West High School that apply to attend Marquette University. 
These scholarships will be awarded annually to students from West High School.  Jim Ryan, Interim Superintendent Vicki Bayer, West High School Principal Michelle Jacobson, UW-Green Bay Assistant Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Services Jennifer Jones and Assistant Vice President for Advancement Communication at Marquette University Brian Dorrington spoke to the students at the event.
“Congratulations,” Bayer said. “We are so darn proud of you.” 
Jacobson looked to the students' future and encouraged them to embrace the ever changing path ahead of them when they get to college.
“Be open to the countless opportunities that will come your way,” Jacobson said. “Seize them with enthusiasm and determination. Charlie, Ivan, Giselle and Derek, embrace the power of education and be transformed and go out there and do great things.”
Meet the Scholarship Recipients
Charlie Brault Full Scholarship 
Charlie Brault is an IB Full Diploma Senior at West High who is interested in the arts and sciences. They are the President of NHS. They are very involved in the International Baccalaureate Programme when they are not researching dinosaurs. Outside of his interest in science, they enjoy band, theater and art. In the fall, they will be attending Marquette University with a major in the biological sciences and they intend on working with animals and conservation in the future. The quote Charlie lives by is, "Muddy water, let stand, becomes clear" by Laozi.
Ivan Grant  Bridge the Gap Scholarship Ivan Grant is an IB Full Diploma Senior at West High. Whenever he has spare time he likes to read. Outside of school Ivan primarily works, but he also actively volunteers and helps out in the community. He plans to attend Marquette University where he will be continuing his education to become a neurosurgeon. His ultimate goal is to make a difference in this lifetime and to leave something behind for future kids to look up to and feel inspired. Ivan lives by an Albert Einstein quote: “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”
Giselle Morelos Balbuena Bridge the Gap Scholarship Giselle Morelos Balbuena is a senior at West High. French has become her favorite subject; she likes that IB higher level French class allows for small groups to bond and learn together. Giselle has taken on more leadership roles and, along with her friends, started a new club at West called Fuerza Latina (Latin Power). The goal of the club is to get more involved in the Hispanic community. As for the future, Giselle plans on attending law school to become a civil lawyer. Giselle’s heroes are her hardworking parents. They have taught her many life lessons that she will take with her throughout life. Giselle’s parents inspire her to work hard every day!
Derek Thepphone A Community Who Cares Scholarship Derek Thepphone is a senior at West High. With acceptance to Marquette, MSOE, and UW-Madison, there were multiple paths he could have taken. However, with heavy emphasis on family and close relationships among other factors, Derek decided to stay close to home and attend the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay with the possibility of transferring in the future. Derek aspires to become an electrical engineer as a result of his passion for both the sciences and math. One of his favorite quotes is, “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory,” by Dr. Seuss.

Jim and Tracy Ryan are 1989 graduates of Marquette University, and Jim is a West High School graduate from the class of 1985. Jim was instrumental in forming Marquette University’s Sales Program, and acts as an Advisory Board Member to the program. Read Jim’s full bio here

The vision for the DGTI is to encourage alumni and local business leaders to form “close the gap” scholarships (independent of the DGTI) that can be awarded to students and allow them to make their dream to attend college a reality. Learn more about the DGTI by watching this video and visiting their website: DGTI is a 501c3 organization and can accept 100% tax-deductible donations.

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