Schallock to lead Nicolet Foundation
After chasing down news leads for more than 17 years, a familiar face in the Northwoods will soon change careers.
Heather Schallock, the familiar 5 p.m. anchor and News Director at WJFW Newswatch 12 in Rhinelander will leave the anchor desk for the last time on Wednesday, Nov. 23. She officially takes over as the executive director of the Nicolet College Foundation on Monday, Nov. 28.
“I almost can’t believe I’m leaving,” said Schallock. “I don’t think it’s really set in yet.”
Schallock said she has always been extremely happy in her role at WJFW. While she wasn’t looking to necessarily make a career change at the time, she was intrigued when she came across the job listing for the Nicolet College Foundation Director.
“It really is a unique opportunity that puts me in the position to make a difference in a lot of people’s lives,” said Schallock. “I feel I’m been able to do that during my time at WJFW, but this will be in a much different way.”
In the current academic year, the foundation has awarded 214 scholarships totaling nearly $200,000. Amounts ranged from $400 to $3,000 to help students cover the cost of books and tuition. Schallock said her familiarity with Nicolet and the foundation, much of it learned through covering stories at the school over the years, played a large role in her decision.
“Nicolet provides so many opportunities for people in this area to better themselves,” said Schallock. “I’ve covered so many positive stories involving Nicolet over the years. It’s exciting to think that I’m soon going to be a part of that.”
While much of Schallock’s new role will center on working with students seeking scholarships, another big part of the job will be seeking donations to keep the foundation’s coffers filled. While philanthropic donations are down across the country in this down economy, Schallock is optimistic that people will continue to give to Nicolet’s Foundation.
“In my time in the Northwoods, I’ve learned that the people here are very generous,” said Schallock. “Nicolet is such a valuable resource for this area. Education really is the key to opening doors for people.”
One of the more important events the foundation holds every year to raise money for students is the Day for Nicolet scholarship drive. Since it was started in 2001, A Day for Nicolet has raised more than $1 million in scholarship money for Nicolet students, funding well over 1,000 scholarships.
“That event has certainly brought the college a lot of media coverage in the past, and it’s something I’m really looking forward to getting involved in,” said Schallock. “With the economy in the state its in, there is a bigger need than ever right now to help students. I’m really looking forward to that challenge.”
While she has yet to make an on-air announcement regarding her new role, Schallock isn’t keeping it a secret, either. She has talked with a lot of surprised people over the last few weeks.
“There’s been a lot of surprise and shock, and a lot of gasps,” said the laughing Schallock. “I guess that means I’ve been here awhile.”
Schallock said she also has gotten plenty of well-wishers. “One of the common reactions I’ve gotten is “You’ll be so great at that job,'” said Schallock. “I’m surprised and a little humbled that people have that kind of confidence in me. This really is a huge career change, so I can’t help but be a little nervous.”
Schallock said one of the toughest, yet most satisfying part of the transition so far has been her talks with her WJFW “family,” those people she’s worked with through the years at the station. Her in-box has been flooded with well wishes from WJFW alums from all over the country wishing her the best of luck.
“I think about the hundreds of young people I’ve helped hire and worked with here over the years,” said Schallock. “So many times I’ve given them advice on moving on, and how to sign off for the last time during their last telecast. Now I guess it’s my turn.”
In a lot of ways, Schallock has grown up on the air, and has embraced her role as one of the most recognizable faces in the Northwoods. She joined WJFW in June of 1994 after graduating from UW-Oshkosh. In 1995, her now-husband, Jerry, proposed to her on live television (the clip has aired frequently on NBC Bloopers and Practical Jokes, and is available on YouTube). She’s got reels of out takes featuring her two children, Sydney, 12, and Jacob, 6, poking their heads into live shots when baby-sitting was hard to come by, and they accompanied Mom to work.
“So often work and life have overlapped,” said Schallock. “I’m going to miss the people and the viewers that have let me into their homes the most. It’s a little sad to see that end, but it’s an exciting new beginning for me, too.”