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Rotary Awards $31,000 in scholarships

The Highlands Rotary Club held their annual Scholarship Awards Banquet on Monday evening of this week, and awarded 18 area students scholarships worth over $31,000.

These are meant to help the students with their college expenses, as they graduate from local high schools.

The event was held at the Highlands San Jacinto Community Center, and 100 students, family, and Rotarians attended.

The keynote speaker was Goose Creek CISD superintendent Randall O’Brien, on the subject of “The Value of a College Education.” O’Brien was introduced by Rotarian Gilbert Hoffman, who noted that the superintendent had two college degrees, and was working on this third, a doctorate from Lamar University. But O’Brien’s talk was peppered with anecdotal stories to start, about successful persons who did not have a college degree, and some even without high school credentials.

So, what is the value of a college degree? O’Brien said that no doubt you will benefit in the job market, and make twice as much money in your lifetime as the average person without a degree. But more importantly, you will have greater opportunities for choice, and a better life. And you will learn to work smarter because of the colllege experience.

O’Brien said that those without a job are 2% for college grads, but 6% for those without a degree. He urged the students to have a Life Plan in the future, set a goal, leading to a career choice.

Dr. Larry White, chairman of the Rotary scholarship committee, thanked the 10 persons who helped judge the 66 applications that resulted in the 18 awards. He said the judgements were based on an applicant’s academic record, grades, monetary needs, extracurricular activities, interests and other intangibles, such as an essay or recommendation.

The scholarships were originally awarded only to Highlands students, but over the years this has expanded, and this year four high schools were represented, including Goose Creek Memorial, Crosby High, Chinquapin Prep, and Baytown Christian Academy, and two in-college students.

Scholarships were awarded as follows:

Goose Creek Memorial: Pooja Bhula, Jessica Crawford, Dianie Fontenelle, Alondra Garcia, Alyssa Henderson, Nelcy Ibarra, Dulce Montoya, Kendyll Reznicek, Tiffany Triola, Kevin Trejo, and Ariel Thiry.

Crosby High School: Hannah Boring, Kelsey Fuchs, and Ally William.

Chinquapin Prep: Hector Guzman.

Baytown Christian Academy: Katlyn Burns.

In-college students: Keely Walker, Madeline Walker.

In addition, Rotary honored four of their past members with special awards, as follows:

W. L. HERNDON D.D.S. SCHOLARSHIP, to Ariel Thiry, presented by his daughter, Patricial Scott.

R. L. CREEL SCHOLARSHIP, to Kevin Trejo, Goose Creek Memorial High School, presented by his son Bill Creel.

PAT McPHEE SCHOLARSHIP, to Kelsey Fuchs, presented by his widow Barbara McPhee.

JAY E. BIRD SCHOLARSHIP, to Hector Guzman, presented by Weston Cotten.

A special program feature was the reading of an Essay, which won a District 5890 competition, based on the Rotary Crede of the Four Way Test. The essay was read by Jessica Crawford, who had won a district-wide contest among the 60 clubs in the District. She was given a check for $3000 by Rotary Club president Raymond Gonzalez on behalf of the District. Her essay was based on personal experience, applying fairness and accuracy to her preparation of the high school yearbook, and its photos. She said the ethics taught in the Four Way Test became the standard upon which she was able to make decisions.

To conclude the evening, Rotarians, students, and parents were invited to comment.