Meet the 2021 Rolin Erickson Montana Resources Opportunity Scholarship Recipients

In 2017 The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, in conjunction with Montana Resources established the Montana Resources Opportunity Scholarship at Montana Technological University.  The scholarship is unique in that every year it provides multiple four-year full-ride scholarships for first-generation students who graduate from Butte high schools.

Shania O'Brian
Shania O'Brien (left) with classmate
and co-worker Kallie Hossack
during Butte High Graduation

At the time the award was created, then-President Rolin Erickson said, “Montana Resources wouldn’t be what it is today without the support of the Butte community, and we are honored to have the opportunity to help open the door to college for Butte youth.”

Erickson understands the benefit of a Montana Tech education first hand graduating in 1985 in Mining Engineering.

Erickson recently retired as the President of Montana Resources and as a testament to his impact and career with the company The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation renewed their commitment to first-generation Butte students and established an award in his honor.

Today we are proud to introduce the first three recipients of the Rolin Erickson Montana Resources Opportunity Scholarship Shania O'Brien, Nacole Sestrich, and Taryn Stratton. Each student will receive a four-year full ride scholarship.

Shania O’Brien is a hard worker who teaches Jiu-Jitsu to children at Grit Training Center in Butte and was a member of the Butte High Cross Country team.

She credits her mom and Butte High guidance counselor Sarah Trang for encouraging her to apply for the scholarship and is grateful for their belief in her. She plans to study biological sciences at Montana Tech in the Fall with the long-term goal of becoming a doctor.

Nacole Sestrich
Scholarship recipient
Nacole Sestrich

Nacole Sestrich found out about the scholarship two years ago when recipients were announced during the annual Butte High Butte Central Boys Basketball game.

On being selected for the scholarship she shared, “Receiving this scholarship means that I have taken success in my family to another level."

Nacole continued, "My family has worked extremely hard throughout their life and they have been successful. I have worked really hard in school to achieve my dreams which will lead to the success of earning a college degree, and it will be a first in my family. It’s a very big accomplishment for my family and me.”

Nacole plans to study nursing at Montana Tech and one day become a nurse practitioner so that she can help improve people’s quality of life.

When Taryn Stratton found out she was selected for the Rolin Erickson Montana Resources Opportunity Scholarship, the first thing she did was call her dad, noting “He was so excited!”

Sharing her relief that, "This scholarship all but guarantees that I will receive my Bachelor of Science Degree and I will be able to enter the workforce without a monthly student loan payment."

Taryn Stratton
Scholarship recipient
Taryn Stratton

Taryn has big plans, starting with obtaining a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management and she is considering a minor or dual major in Occupational Safety and Health.

Asked about her plans for the future Taryn shared, “My short-term goal is to open an environmentally focused retail business here in Butte.  My long-term goal is to be healthy, happy, and to see where life takes me.”

We look forward to welcoming Shania, Nacole and Taryn to campus when the Fall semester starts on August 23rd and can not wait to see what their futures at Montana Technological University have in store.

In the Spring 2021 edition of MNews (story link below), Erickson reflected on his advice for the students receiving the scholarship that bears his name.  “Well, it’s the opportunity scholarship. Take advantage of the opportunity. Go to school every day, don’t miss classes, stay up on the hill until your work is done. But don’t forget to have fun while you’re there. Participate in some extracurricular activities. It’s not just school.”


The Rolin Erickson Montana Resources Opportunity Scholarship is providing an incredible opportunity for Butte students and we invite you to continue this momentum with a gift the Butte Endowed Scholarship to help advance local students and the Butte community at large. Raising funds for the Butte Endowed Scholarship will allow Montana Tech to expand local recruitment efforts and provide scholarships for students who otherwise may not be able to afford to attend college.

Our ultimate goal is to establish a $2.5 million endowment that will positively impact students in Butte for years to come. We are grateful for several leadership gifts that have put us on the path to that goal with nearly $350,000 raised so far.

Please consider making an investment in Butte students. You can be certain that a gift to the Butte Endowed Scholarship at Montana Tech is an investment in the city's youth today and for generations to come.