Renata Krieger, a 2019 graduate of Pewaukee High School, recently won the KPMG Future Leaders Program, which annually awards 20 top female high school seniors the opportunity to enhance their personal growth through college scholarships, a leadership retreat at Stanford University, mentorship, and an introduction to golf. The question is, how did someone whose teachers described as “calm,” “quiet,” and “a good listener” come out on top of what was likely a highly competitive nationwide contest?
“She does a great job of looking at her long-term goals,” says Shawn Prell, business and computer instructor at Pewaukee. “She has a lot of foresight.”
That special talent may have accelerated after the death of her father when Renata was nine. She says of that time, “I just kind of needed to keep myself busy and keep my mind positive.” Early on, she told herself that she didn’t have two parents who would be paying for college. “I had to learn to be independent.”
Renata took her first business class as a freshman. The teacher made it interesting so the various projects were fun for her. She was hooked. When another teacher suggested she should join the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), it became an outlet for her.
Her naturally quiet disposition worked against her at first, but she was determined to improve her skills. “She has a strong internal drive,” says Shawn Upton, business education instructor and FBLA advisor at Pewaukee.
Her self-confidence and public speaking ability rapidly improved. Soon, she was president of her FBLA chapter, rising to region 7 vice president prior to her senior year.
She was gaining the skills she needed; but where would she find the money for college? “I’m going into the real world in five years,” she told her freshman self, “and I need to learn how to save money.” So when she got a job that winter, her paychecks went into the Edvest college savings account that her parents had set up years earlier. “I would tape the quarterly statement to my bedroom wall,” she says. Personal finance became a passion for Renata.
Her senior year, she was also earning money through an internship with the WICPA. Her last year, she says, was a lesson in perseverance. She planned her time carefully to fit everything in, but she felt the sacrifices would be worth it if she could go to the small private college where she had dreamed of going since middle school.
When she saw a promotional video for the KPMG Future Leaders Program, she set her sights on it. “I told my mom, ‘I am getting that.’” And she did! “I was speechless and excited,” she says on winning the award. The KPMG scholarship will cover half of her tuition.
What next? It’s on to her next dream. Whatever it is, she has proven her ability to set her course for success.