When St. Croix Central senior Michael Sauer heads off to the University of Wisconsin at Madison next fall to study economics, his mom can rest securely knowing her mac and cheese recipe can lure him back home any time.
"I don't know the exact proportion of cheese to noodles, but it's made with 100 percent love and that makes it the best," said Sauer.
That compliment is probably good for an unlimited supply of brownie, or maybe muffin points as his mom's bite size chocolate muffins loaded with chocolate chips are his kryptonite when it comes to his sweet tooth.
"I love chocolate," added Sauer.
You might already sense that Sauer knows how to speak to people, what words to choose to persuade them. That most likely is a skill he learned through his involvement in the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) program, a program he feels has influenced his education in a big way. As Regional Vice President, Sauer was responsible for managing communications between 30 schools. As VP, he has had the opportunity to travel throughout Wisconsin and across the country to Atlanta and this summer to, Anaheim, Calif.
"FBLA really helped me extend that leadership mentality beyond the confines of SCC. In Region One, we have some 30 schools that I have to correspond with keeping them informed of different events and what's going on with the state office. It was an honor to be in charge of that," said Sauer.
Academically, Sauer fancies himself a jack of all trades electing to study a wide range of subjects from human geography, calculus and physics to advanced placement literature and economics classes which he took himself online through the UW virtual school.
In addition to his involvement in FBLA, outside of class, Sauer ran cross-country, plays baseball, was a member of the Student Council, participated in the Science Olympiad and forensics and held down a job at McDonalds.
By way of giving back to his community, he and his family can be found ringing the bell for the Salvation Army every winter.
"Our favorite place is the County Market in Hudson because they have heaters and big pillars to block the wind," said Sauer.
Sauer's also started a habit of donating his O positive blood through the Red Cross.
To put his finger on one memorable experience that stood out for him during his four years at SCC, he picked the state championship won by the football team.
"As a freshman, I figured going to state football was for schools other than us with far superior talent and skills and such. To be able to accomplish that, I thought was impossible. At the end of the day, to be SCC standing upon the field hoisting the golden football was something special. That team brought the school and the entire community together," said Sauer.
He paid tribute to several teachers who impacted his education in a positive way.
"One teacher who really made a difference for me was Mr. Buckel. He really exposed me to viewpoints of the United States from other countries around the world and their mindsets, beliefs, cultures and values. Mrs. Wolf's been instrumental in a lot of people scoring very well on the advanced placement tests last year," said Sauer.
When it comes to a mentor, local attorney, Tim Scott was at the top of Michael's list.
"He taught our church class in tenth grade. He's a great person to talk to if you ever have something to get off your chest," said Sauer.
Proving that he was paying attention in his world history studies, he chose Nelson Mandela as his hero.
"Maybe someone like Nelson Mandela for being able to show such restraint and forgiveness after being locked up in the apartheid system in South Africa for years. By showing love for his fellow countrymen, he was able to capture the hopes and dreams of a whole country," said Sauer.
At the top of his long list for handing out thanks were his mom and dad.
"Mom and dad absolutely. Mr. Emery, my cross-country coach, for always pushing us to our limit. Mr. Koele, Mr. Sauve, Coach Berg, Mike Nilssen, Matthew Christian on the baseball team, really everybody, Mr. Haug, my FBLA advisor," said Sauer.
If you slipped on his headphones, you would probably hear "Hello" by Adele; he says it has been stuck in his brain for a while now. You might hear a wide variety of whatever's on the radio but not heavy metal or rap.
"It hurts my ears," said Sauer.
Several years ago, one of the items on his bucket list, if it is possible to have a bucket list at 18, was accomplished when he visited the site where Field of Dreams starring Kevin Costner was filmed in Iowa in 1989.
"It's one of my favorite movies. It really got me involved in baseball. I got to run the bases," remembered Sauer.
His other favorite movies, pretty much anything about baseball and Star Wars. He really liked Rogue One but the jury's still out on Episode VII The Force Awakens.
Although he doesn't watch much on the little screen, his two favorite shows are The Big Band Theory and old episodes of Seinfeld.
If he could meet up with anyone from history for lunch, Sauer would choose Abraham Lincoln.
"I'd want to know how he kept it all together, when the ceiling is coming down, when nothing's working on the battlefield, the generals are incapable of winning, how did he keep the country from tearing itself in half," said Sauer.
For a book recommendation, he suggested "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein.
"It's a simple but profound look at how we live our everyday lives. Are we giving to other people, are we gracious in that manner or are we more self-centered," said Sauer.
What is the one thing Sauer believes everyone should have regardless of the cost? Hope.
"No matter how difficult things might get, wherever you find yourself in life, you need hope, something to hold onto, something to get you through," said Sauer.
He sees Madison as the next challenge, a test he relishes.
"One thing I'll be able to really test in college is intrinsic motivation. It doesn't come from a parent or even a teacher, it comes from within. If I can cultivate that, I'm set for college, I can accomplish great things," said Sauer.