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May 30, 2009

Western National Insurance Group Announces 2009 Scholarship Recipients

Western National Insurance Group today announced that its scholarship committee has selected six outstanding applicants to receive college scholarships worth $2,500 each for the upcoming fall term: Kasandra Brown (Bloomington, Minn.), Mary Buckley (St. Paul, Minn.), Taylor Latvala (Maple Grove, Minn.), Erin Long (Bayside, Wis.), Shantel Montgomery (Minot, N.D.), and Whitney Winkelman (Murray, Utah).

Kasandra Brown, daughter of Joseph and Valerie Podolinsky, will begin her freshman year this fall at the University of Wisconsin–Madison studying Global Studies.  Kasandra is a senior at Jefferson High School in Bloomington, Minn., where she has served as captain of the Science Olympiad, secretary of the school’s National Honor Society chapter, and founder/co-president of the school’s Amnesty International student group.  She has also been an active participant in the school’s diversity committee as well as on the tennis team.  Outside of school hours, she has spent time as a library volunteer, a tutor, and a volunteer for Students Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity.

Kasandra’s father Joseph is a Western National agency partner at The Insurance Mart in Fridley, Minn.

Mary Buckley, daughter of John and Susan Buckley, will begin her freshman year this fall at the University of North Dakota (Grand Forks) studying Physical Therapy.  Mary is a senior at the Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield, Minn., where she has been a member of the Service Club, the school’s admissions team, and the hockey and track and field teams.  Outside of school hours she has been active as an altar server, as a member of her church youth group, and as a volunteer for both the Challenge! Girls Club and Feed My Starving Children.

Mary’s father John is an employee in the Claims Department at Western National’s home office in Edina, Minn.

Taylor Latvala, daughter of Todd and Terri Latvala, will begin her freshman year this fall at the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities) studying International Business.  Taylor is a senior at St. Louis Park Senior High School, where she has served as captain of the basketball team and as a member of the golf, track and field, and volleyball teams.  Outside of school hours she has been an active volunteer with the St. Louis Park Emergency Program and has served as a Teacher’s Assistant at the Park Spanish Immersion School.

Taylor’s father Todd is an employee in the Claims Department at Western National’s home office in Edina, Minn.

Erin Long, daughter of Mary Reilly and Mike Long, will begin her sophomore year this fall at the University of Wisconsin–Madison studying Psychology and Spanish.  Erin is a graduate of Nicolet High School in Milwaukee, Wis., where she was treasurer of the school’s International Thespian Society chapter, historian of the Spanish Honor Society chapter, a National Honor Society member, and a section leader for the women’s choir, chamber singers, and vocal jazz ensemble.  Outside of school hours she has been active with volunteer efforts such as the One Give campus service project, Casa Maria, Spanish tutoring, and Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.

Erin’s mother Mary is a Western National agency partner at Robertson Ryan & Associates in Milwaukee, Wis.

Shantel Montgomery, daughter of James and Kimberly Montgomery, will begin her freshman year this fall at the University of North Dakota (Grand Forks) studying Elementary Education.  Shantel is a senior at Minot High School, where she has served as vice president of the student council, captain of the golf and tennis teams, and as a student guide.  She has also been a member of the National Honor Society, the Spanish Honor Society, key club, and the basketball team.  Outside of school hours she has been active as a golf tournament volunteer and as a tutor for Spanish-speaking children.

Shantel’s father James is a Western National agency partner at Bremer Insurance in Minot, N.D.

Whitney Winkelman, daughter of David and Alice Winkelman, will begin her freshman year this fall at Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah) studying Business.  Whitney is a senior at Murray High School, where she has served as student body vice president, captain of the soccer team, and representative for the National Federation of High Schools.  She has also been a member of the track and field team, the University of Utah Girls Leadership Forum, and the cast of the school musical.  Outside of school hours she has been active in volunteer activities including those of the Kiwanis Club, the community food bank, and her church’s young women’s organization.

Whitney’s father David is a Western National agency partner at CN Insurance Associates in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“We’re pleased to be able to award these six scholarships to such a talented and accomplished group of students,” said Western National president and chief executive officer Stuart Henderson.  “Helping support their educational pursuits not only rewards and enables their hard work and determination, but in doing so also serves as a boon to the communities in which these students work and live.  Congratulations to our ‘Class of 2009’.”

To ensure neutrality and integrity in the selection process, applications were scored blindly—that is, with names and other identifying information hidden from the scholarship committee—based on a pre-determined combination of objective and subjective scoring criteria.

Western National Insurance Group, headquartered in Edina, Minn., is a super-regional property-and-casualty insurance group writing over $245 million in Direct Premium in nine states.  The group consists of three companies (Western National Mutual Insurance Company, Western National Assurance Company, and Pioneer Specialty Insurance Company) serving personal and commercial customers in Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin, as well as commercial customers in Iowa and North Dakota.  All of the group’s products are sold exclusively through professional independent agents.

For further information, contact:

Mary S. Manley
SVP Corporate Affairs & Administration
952-921-3820
mary.manley@wnins.com