WICHITA — Jarret Krueger used to mow lawns for $10 or $15, hauling a push mower behind his bike.
He'd put business cards in neighbor's mailboxes, advertising his fledgling lawn care business.
"That was probably illegal," he admits. But he was 11, and folks saw it for what it was:
Ingenuity. Resourcefulness. A go-get-'em attitude.
This week the years of hard work paid off big, as Krueger was awarded one of the largest scholarships in Kansas.
Wichita State University officials announced Thursday that Krueger, a senior at Wellington High School, and Natalie Kuhlmann, a senior at Olpe High School in Lyon County, each won the $48,000 Harry Gore Memorial Scholarship.
"The money is great," Krueger said after the news conference at WSU's Marcus Welcome Center. "But the thing that excites me the most is the opportunities I'm going to have here at WSU."
The Gore Scholarship has been awarded annually since 1954 to two freshmen who display academic skills and leadership potential.
The two winners competed against 344 other students in the Distinguished Scholarship Invitational. To be invited, students had to have a 24 or higher ACT score and a minimum 3.5 cumulative GPA.
Krueger, the son of David and Beth Krueger and Tracy and Tami McCue, plans to study entrepreneurship at WSU.
In addition to having a 4.2 weighted GPA, he serves as treasurer for his senior class, student council and his school's National Honor Society chapter. He also manages vending machines at Wellington High, a task that includes ordering and stocking products.
For the past five years, as the owner of Krueger's Lawn Care Service, the high school senior has managed several part-time employees, two trucks and more than 100 regular customers.
"Working has taught me so much, including how to speak with adults and what good service means," he said. He may decide to expand his lawn care business, he said, "Or I might get some other great idea and go after that."
Kuhlmann, the other scholarship winner, plans to study nursing at WSU. She hopes to one day work with cancer patients at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
"I've always wanted to work with children. That's my dream," said Kuhlmann, 17.
She's involved in several sports and other activities at Olpe High School, and spends lots of time volunteering. She has organized canned food drives, raised money for cystic fibrosis research and put together holiday packages for soldiers and the elderly.
Diana Kuhlmann, Natalie's mom, said Thursday that her daughter "still hasn't come down" from the thrill of learning she had won the Gore Scholarship. Natalie's talents and drive are rooted in her deep Christian faith, she added.
"I've always told her to be who you are," Diana Kuhlmann said. "It's about using the gifts God gave you and not trying to be anybody else. ... This (scholarship) is just another blessing."