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Family Begins Scholarship Fund in Memory of Kirsten (Frederick) Fumagalli '03

Fumagalli died last March, at age 36, after a 27-day battle with colon cancer. Through the Kirsten Frederick Fumagalli Memorial Scholarship, her legacy will live on in the lives of future Bethel athletic training students.

By Monique Kleinhuizen '08, GS'16, new media strategist

April 25, 2019 | 8:30 a.m.

Kirsten (Frederick) Fumagalli ‘03 and friends at Bethel

Kirsten (Frederick) Fumagalli ‘03 (second from left) died in 2018, at age 36, after a 27-day battle with colon cancer. Her family set up the Kirsten Frederick Fumagalli Memorial Scholarship so that her legacy lives on in the lives of future Bethel athletic training students.

Chad Osgood has taught a lot of students in his time at Bethel, but Kirsten (Frederick) Fumagalli ’03 is one that sticks out in his mind.

“She was a phenomenal student and a phenomenal person who was enjoyable to be around and connected well with the athletes,” says Osgood, associate professor and director of the graduate athletic training program. “She was fun and enjoyed life and truly embodied everything you’d want in an athletic trainer and a Bethel student.”

After Bethel, Fumagalli pursued a master’s at the University of Iowa, where she met her husband, Michael. They got married, had two kids, and built a life together in Illinois, where Kirsten worked in corporate healthcare and Michael was principal of Glenn Westlake Middle School. In February 2018, Kirsten didn’t feel well and decided to see a doctor. She was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, had one chemotherapy treatment, and died 27 days later. 

Assistant Professor of Human Kinetics and Applied Health Science Greta Schutte ’03 graduated with Kirsten as part of the only all-female athletic training class in Bethel’s history. A close friend, she describes how Kirsten was quiet but took advantage of everything Bethel had to offer. She played basketball, had a music scholarship for oboe, and traveled over spring break to build homes through Habitat for Humanity. Schutte visited Kirsten during spring break 2018, just before she passed away, and remembers the shock she felt about someone so young and vibrant being diagnosed with such an aggressive cancer.

“You just don’t hear about that in people our age. She physically looked really sick, but it was still Kirsten. It’s hard, from a distance, to know what to do in that situation,” Schutte says. At the time, Bethel was transitioning its athletic training programs in response to changes in national certification requirements. Knowing Kirsten’s love for Bethel and her profession, Schutte approached Michael as well as Kirsten’s parents, Jan and Cynthia Frederick, about setting up a scholarship fund in her honor. They all immediately agreed and contributed substantially, dreaming about the future Bethel athletic training students who could be impacted by Kirsten’s legacy.

“This is the only scholarship we have in the program,” Schutte adds. “It’s hard for athletic training students to have other jobs, because there are so many clinical hours required. Students make it happen, but financial aid is a big deal.”

Kirsten (Frederick) Fumagalli '03 and her friends as students at Bethel

Kirsten (Frederick) Fumagalli '03 (front right) was well connected on campus, and her family hopes that her legacy will live on in future athletic training students who are as vibrant and committed to their faith as she was.

Michael says that the fond way Kirsten remembered Bethel—and the deep connections she maintained with Bethel friends and professional contacts—played a big role in their decision to start the fund. “Kirsten's years at Bethel were some of the most impactful of her life,” he says. “Bethel is where Kirsten spread her wings and explored her faith, shared it with others, and blossomed into the woman I had the privilege of falling in love with and marrying. It was Kirsten's heart that caused people to gravitate toward her. Her heart, that was woven together by the hands of Christ, flourished and grew in her at Bethel so that she was ready to go into the world and serve Him in relentless pursuit of Heaven.”

Michael recalls that Kirsten saw her profession as a mission opportunity each day. Even when they were in some of their darkest times after having a stillborn baby in 2013, Kirsten began leading a Chicago-area chapter of a national organization that supports grieving families after the loss of a child. Her family hopes that the scholarship will encourage future students to use their God-given gifts to be a similar light in a dark world.

“Where there was pain, Kirsten saw an opportunity to minister. Many see trial and tribulation as obstacles to endure. Kirsten saw them as opportunities to share the love of Christ and His desire for our hearts,” Michael says. “Even through her battle with colon cancer, the more she suffered, the more she radiated her love of the Lord.”

It brings me no greater joy than to help people give where God has called them to give. As I sat with Kirsten's parents and her husband, they described how passionate she was about using her profession to tell people about Jesus. This was at the core of who she was. It gave me chills. Our desire at Bethel is that we educate young men and women to be world-changers, Christ-followers, and salt and light. Kirsten exemplified this.

— Associate Vice President of Development Jeanne Osgood

The Kirsten Frederick Fumagalli Memorial Scholarship

This scholarship fund will provide a grant annually to a deserving student in the Master of Science in Athletic Training program.

“This scholarship is intended to touch others with Kirsten's story of grit and perseverance, inspire others to serve Christ as she did, and provide financially for a recipient that holds the Lord's mission through healthcare and sports medicine to the highest standard,” Michael says. “The goal is for a recipient to be selected that embodies the person of Christ that Kirsten was and continues to be. Recipients of this scholarship should know they carry a great honor in being a part of Kirsten's legacy on Earth. We can live confidently knowing the moment after she threw her arms around the Savior on March 14, 2018, He looked her in the eyes and said, ‘Well done.’”

This fund has been endowed, meaning the principal will remain intact while the interest it bears will fund the annual scholarship. Alumni and friends of Bethel are invited to contribute to the fund in order to increase its impact in future years.

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