A Servant’s Heart
Fallen firefighter Mitch Lundgaard’s legacy of service lives on through scholarship
For Tessa Wilson, the two most important things in life are family and helping others.
Her parents set the example: her father is a retired police officer and Air Force veteran, and her mother is a jail chaplain. “Through my parents I was taught to have a servant’s heart and I will do anything I can to make a difference in this world,” she says.
Tessa’s older brother has also made a huge impact on her life. “My brother is autistic, and truly one of my best friends. Growing up with him, I have learned how to have empathy and compassion for everyone. I’ve learned how to advocate for others when they can’t advocate for themselves.”
It’s not surprising then, that Tessa’s path has led her to a career serving the public: firefighting. She completed the FVTC Emergency Medical Technician program in fall 2022 and is currently enrolled in the Fire Protection Technician program, on track to graduate in 2024.
She takes classes at the 77.5-acre Public Safety Training Center in Greenville, which combines classroom training with hands-on practice in a real-world setting. “I love the hands-on aspect of the classes,” she explains. “Getting to see what we're going to be doing in real life has been really cool. The instructors are so encouraging and knowledgeable as well.”
Tessa is also the spring 2023 recipient of the Mitch Lundgaard Memorial Scholarship. Mitch was a firefighter with the Appleton Fire Department who lost his life in the line of duty in 2019. His wife Lindsey and his family established the scholarship in his honor.
“I’ve heard so many stories about how deeply Mitch was able to impact his community and I can only hope to serve my community in the same way he did,” says Tessa. “He’s a role model for me and so many other students.”
The funds have allowed Tessa to set aside her worries about finances and focus on her studies. “The finance part of school was always a struggle,” she says. “My first semester here, I didn't know where I was going to land second semester. So receiving this scholarship took a huge weight off my shoulders.”
Mitch Lundgaard Memorial Scholarship
Mitchell F. Lundgaard was a 14-year veteran of the Appleton Fire Department when he tragically lost his life in the line of duty in 2019. It started as a routine medical call at the city’s transit center, when a man who had been revived after a drug overdose opened fire on police officers and firefighters who had just saved his life. Mitch died of a gunshot wound to the chest.
Through the FVTC Foundation, Inc., Mitch’s light continues to shine on through the gift of education. The Mitch Lundgaard Memorial Scholarship was established in 2019 and is awarded based on financial need and merit to full-time or part-time students enrolled in the Fire Protection Technician program. To date, it has been awarded to 24 students.