The Erika K. Scholarship
Erika Kalitta Gilbertson’s lifelong interest in women’s issues and education comes from her experiences in Germany following World War II. While helping her mother operate an inn, Erika was imprisoned by the occupying Russians. Held for four months in solitary confinement, she fled to the west at her mother’s urging. Her mother’s livelihood was later destroyed when the Russians expropriated the family’s inn.
She met Bob while he was stationed with the U.S. Air Force in West Berlin. They married and came to the United States in 1955, where Bob built a successful career as an executive with several companies, including Hal Leonard Publishing in Winona. Erika practiced as an interior designer and became increasingly interested in women’s advocacy.
Recalling the incredible hardship she endured in Cold War Europe, Erika says, “I wanted to support women who may have faced impossible choices.”
“My own education was interrupted. Rather than being dependent on someone or something else, education gives us the power to achieve, to make our own way. It provides hope for the future.”
“The emphasis on education in Winona is unequaled,” says Bob. “We do what we can to even the ballgame for women who have experienced hardship.”
The Erika K. Scholarship, established in 1997, annually provides a full tuition and fees for non-traditional women students.
Phone: 507.457.5020 or