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Larson keeps promises posthumously

Mary Larson, Ugbad Mohamed, scholarship, owatonna
Ugbad Mohamed and Mary Larson smile for a photo after Larson presented Mohamed with the Bruce Larson Memorial Scholarship. Mohamed plans to use the $1,200 scholarship to pursue an education in computer science at Augsburg University. Staff photo by Johnnie Phillips
Johnnie Phillips, Sports Editor
“It feels really good receiving a scholarship because it has been really tough for me and my mom.”
-Ugbad Mohamed, OHS Graduate

As a dairy farmer for much of his life, Owatonna’s Bruce Larson was no stranger to hard work.

Larson always appreciated the ideals that came with hard work, discipline and sacrifice – a driving factor in why he and his wife, Mary, created the Bruce Larson Memorial Scholarship before his passing in 2005.

“Prior to 2005, when Somalian immigrant students were first coming to Owatonna Schools, he wanted to be at the high school helping mentor them,” said Mary Larson. “As time passed and he developed a terminal illness, he wished to create a scholarship to help Somali immigrant students graduating from Owatonna High School.”

The 2023 Bruce Larson Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Ugbad Mohamed, an Owatonna High School graduate who is the first person in her family to graduate from high school.

“It feels really good receiving a scholarship because it has been really tough for me and my mom. It means a lot to us to be honest. I’m a first-generation Minnesotan-Somali graduate so it really means the world,” said Mohamed.

Larson and Mohamed were able to share a moment together to discuss the scholarship and future plans in the Owatonna High School gym for the school’s annual Academic & Scholarship Night.

Mohamed received the $1,200 certificate from Larson with a warm embrace and notified her that she plans on studying computer science at Augsburg University with hopes of one day going into the cybersecurity field.

However, what brought smiles to all parties’ faces was more than just the culmination of Mohamed’s hard work to reach the next chapter of her life.

Mohamed spoke about her time in Owatonna and how the school itself not only presented an opportunity to pursue her passions, but also offered a sense of community in the process.

“I actually grew up in Willmar for many years but came here in seventh grade. I’m so glad we moved to Owatonna. There’s a lot of diversity here, and I’m proud to have been a Husky,” said Mohamed.

While Bruce Larson may not be physically present to hear the words from Mohamed, what Mary Larson knows is that his posthumous work is going exactly as planned.

In his obituary from 2005, it was written that “[Larson] developed a deep respect for Somali immigrant students, whom he tutored twice a week for two years at OHS. Bruce, a grandson and great-grandson of immigrants, was a vocal proponent of welcoming newcomers into the community.”

Now, even 18 years later, Larson’s hopes are still materializing annually.

“It’s a wonderful experience getting to come back here every year and meet the amazing students. We know that they are going to go out in the world and accomplish such great things. I’m so happy for Ugbad, and I’m excited to see what she does in the future.”

Mohamed will be one of more than 300 seniors graduating Friday at 7 p.m. on the Huskies’ football field.

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