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Rotary awards $32,000 in scholarships

Scholarship Recipients proudly pose after Monday night’s Scholarship Banquet. Also pictured is the keynote speaker, Justice of the Peace Lucia Bates. 17 of the18 recipients were present at the ceremonies at the San Jacinto Community Center, with the others either away at college, or receiving other awards the same night. The total amount of the scholarships awarded was $32,000. Students were from local high schools, with six already at college.

HIGHLANDS – Monday night was the Rotary Club Annual Scholarship Banquet, held at the San Jacinto Community Center.

Receiving scholarships were 18 students, who attended along with their families. The scholarships totaled $32,000 and these funds were a result of the Chili Feast held each February. Scholarships were in the amount of $1500 except for four special awards named for individuals as memorials. These were $2500 apiece.

The keynote speaker was Justice of the Peace Lucia Bates, of Precinct 3 in Baytown. Judge Bates spoke of her early life, having been born on the island of St. Lucia in the Caribbean (hence her name), and coming to this country at an early age.

Bates was educated at the University of Houston Clear Lake, and the University of Phoenix. Her major was communication and marketing, and she worked for GTE, several newspapers, and then her own marketing firm, LB Marketing Solutions.

She has a passion to give back to the community, which led her to seek a position as judge. She has held a number of public service positions, including Rotary director, chair of the North Channel Chamber, president of her HOA, and former board member of the YMCA, Pilot Club, Top Ladies of Distinction, and an advisory panel to LyondellEquistar. She said she is busy improving her court, making it a more people friendly, inviting atmosphere.

She has instigated community education on new laws, added an evening court session, works with school districts to reduce truancy, introduced new punishment options instead of incarceration, restarted Teen Court, and has a program to help recently released prisoners find employment.

Speaking to the scholarship recipients, she said, “You are starting a new career beyond student. Surround yourself with positive individuals. There is no secret to success, just hard work and dealing with failure.

“You are the Country’s next leaders. Don’t forget to give back.

“Quoting Steve Jobs, ‘Don’t let the noise drown out, listen to your own voice. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.’”

Rotarians Dr. Larry White and Rotary President Denise Smith proceeded to award the scholarships, and each student was asked to say a few words about their accomplishments and goals.

White said that there were 18 scholarships, but 77 students had applied. A committee of 9 Rotarians read 6000 pages of applications to evaluate the submissions.

Special Awards were made in memory of Pat McPhee, W.L. Herndon, Jay E. Bird, and R.L. Creel by members of their families, or friends.. Students who received scholarships were from Goose Creek Memorial, Crosby, Chinquapin, and four students already at college.

From Goose Creek Memorial High School: Sadie Aiken, Christopher Cerino, Maeva Flavien, Zhabian Gonzalez, Athena Jane Janobas, Land Holman, Anjali Patel, Shaily Yadav. From Crosby High School, Mary Greer. From Chinquapin Prep, Julian Noyola. College students who received scholarships were Kailey Fuchs, Victoria Gonzalez, Jordan Swilley, and Carolina Nunez.

Special scholarship awards were made as follows: Pat McPhee Scholarship, presented by Barbara McPhee to Dayton Berezoski; W.L. Herndon DDS Scholarship, presented by Patricia Scott to Morgan Forsyth; J.E. Bird Scholarship, presented by Weston Cotten to Nicole Trujillo; and R.L. Creel Scholarship, presented by Janice Creel Swick to Joshua Protain.

At the end of the evening, students, families and Rotarians were invited to speak about what this event had meant to them. Several expressed their appreciation of the support and that they would not have had the opportunity for college otherwise.