A scholarship helped Michael (Mike) Balok complete his education at Michigan Technological University and pursue a career in the medical field to become an ophthalmologist.
Balok was one of the first recipients of the Kathy Jean Jensen Memorial Scholarship. He says the financial support helped him earn his bachelor’s degree in biological sciences in 1985.
As the first recipient of the scholarship, he met with the Jensens and they shared stories about their daughter, Kathy Jean, who was a student at Michigan Tech, before she passed away. "I felt honored to be one of the first recipients of the award," Balok says. "They asked me if, in the future, I would be willing to continue donating to this fund and thereby intertwine Kathy's name and memory with Michigan Tech. I said I would do my best, and I have tried to honor my promise."
Balok helped solicit donations to support the scholarship. "I just did what I could to raise as much money as possible so Kathy Jean Jensen would never be forgotten and her memory would continue to mean something to the students of Michigan Tech," Balok says. "The scholarship is endowed now, and that's great, but I'd still like this fund to grow. Kathy's death was tragic and I never met her, but I hope she knows the impact she and her parents had on the students of Michigan Tech."
He has his own ophthalmology practice in St. Clair County, Michigan, where he performs laser, cataract, and glaucoma surgery.
Balok and his wife, Amy, have been married 21 years and they have three children, Nathan 16, Aaron 14, and Haley 9. "They seem to share my fascination with science and I would not be surprised to see another Balok applying to Michigan Tech in the future," he says.
Outside of the office, Balok enjoys outdoor activities including hunting and fishing across the globe. "My sense of adventure has never waned and I love introducing my kids to new things," he says. The family just returned this summer from a photo, fishing, and hunting safari in Zimbabwe.
"Getting a scholarship definitely eases the financial burden. This scholarship acknowledges all my hard work. It is the gift that keeps on giving."