We’ve all seen the picture of the fans getting fired up for another winning Wisconsin team. As the winning season progresses the excitement gets higher and higher. It’s a tradition nearly as old as Badger athletics.
Jake Bisenius knows the thrill of being part of this tradition as a fan and former UW cheerleader. Today, Bisenius is chief investment officer with AmCap Inc., a private equity real estate company. A dozen years after earning his undergraduate degree, Bisenius established a scholarship to honor his grandfather, Walter Olson, an electrician who couldn’t afford college, raised eight children, and died too young to see his grandson's success. Bisenius’ generosity on behalf of future engineering students reflects another important Badger tradition: giving back. “When you give back, you get back,” he says.
Bisenius himself got a boost from another engineering alumnus. John Mink established the need-based John W. and Roberta J. Mink Scholarship. Bisenius was a recipient.
After successfully running several companies, Mink is currently president of Zenith Cutter Inc. in Rockford, Illinois. Coming from a large family, Mink was always interested in engineering but had to work his way through college. He began his studies at the UW Kenosha-Racine Extension. The co-op program at American Motors enabled Mink to work and go to school. Although he didn’t arrive on the UW-Madison campus until his junior year, he remembers it as a good education and a good time in life. Perhaps his marriage to Roberta and the birth of his daughter had something to do with the happy memories.
Mink always includes the annual scholarship awards dinner on his calendar. It gives him an opportunity to meet his recipient and to remind each recipient to “pay it forward.” Bisenius understands why. “We are helping people transform their lives,” he said. “Someone out there will find a cure for cancer. I’m not interested in the next ‘American Idol’; I want to help the next engineer, the next scientist.”
Mink and Bisenius graduated more than 30 years apart but they share a commitment to future College of Engineering students. Tomorrow’s engineers are standing on their shoulders. This is the most winning tradition of all.
Jake Bisenius, BSME '96
Chief investment officer,
John Mink, BSME '64
Zenith Cutter Inc.