Rotary awards $37,500 in Scholarships

21 students from area schools

HIGHLANDS – The Rotary Club held their annual Scholarship Banquet last Monday night, May 8th, and awarded 21 scholarships totaling $37,500.

The venue of the Highlands Community Center was festive and full with scholarship recipients, family and friends, and Rotarians and their families.

The featured keynote speaker was Goose Creek CISD Superintendent Dr. Randal O’Brien. He gave the award recipients “a few words of wisdom,” as he termed it. He told stories about people who went through life with a positive attitude, believing they could accomplish anything. These examples were Henry Ford, Mark Twain, and Mother Teresa.

O’Brien told a quip from Twain: “The two most important days of your life: the day you were born, and the day you find out why.” He ended with the challenge, “Never stop moving forward.”

The scholarships are a result of the funds raised primarily at the club’s Annual Chili Feast in February. At this event, a new vehicle is raffled off to a $100 ticket holder, along with 13 other prizes, and the net proceeds are used for the scholarships and other community projects.

Over the years, these projects have included supporting such groups as the Bay Area Homeless, Baytown Youth Fair, Bras for the Cause, Cody Stephens Foundation, Crosby Fair & Rodeo, Highlands Food Pantry, Harris County Stratford Library, Harris County Seniors program, Highlands Horizons Miss Highlands Pageant, Highlands Little League, Highlands Volunteer Fire Department, Hurricane Relief, Methodist Church, North Shore Rotary, Partners in Education, Share Your Christmas, Stratford Library Summer Reading Program, Community Tree Lighting ceremony, Wreaths Across America, Thanksgiving Turkeys for needy families, and Precinct2gether, as well as many other projects.

The club estimates that since it started awarding scholarships, it has given out over $550,000 in scholarships to college bound students. Awards are from $1500 to $2500 per school year. The Scholarship committee had a large field of 59 applications to review. The Review Committee consisted of 8 Highlands Rotarians, with Dr. Larry White as chair. Dr. White explained that they were evaluated on grades, an essay, extra curricular activities, and recommendations. At the banquet, scholarships were presented by Denise Smith and Diana Weaver.

Scholarship Awards this year went to the following:

From Goose Creek Memorial High School:
— Amy Chen
— Xiomara Gamez
— Kaitlyn Gindratt
— Keren Gonzalez
— Adriana Herrera
— Jazmyn Koenst
— Sophia Leyva
— Austin Martinez
— Haylie Ochoa
— Alysia Pena

From Impact Early College High School:
— Priscilla Cerino

From Ross S. Sterling High School:
— Madelyn Garza

From Chinquapin Preparatory School:
— Christian Palomo

College Students:
— Francisco Trujillo, HCCUH
— Tanishqa Kharat, UT Austin

Named scholarships are in honor of Highlands Rotarians who contributed to the club and the community, and that have passed away. They are presented by a person who was best friends or family to the Rotarian that is being honored.

This year, the following special named Scholarships were:

R.L. Creel Scholarship, presented by Weston Cotten, to Mindy Perez of LSU;

Dr. W.L. & Nell Herndon Scholarship, presented by Patricia Scott, to Morgan Forsyth of Texas State University;

Jay E. Bird Scholarship, presented by Elaine Bird Marshal, to Eveline Perez of Chinquapin Preparatory School;

Chester Stasney Scholarship, presented by his best friend Johnny Gaeke and his widow Marie Stasney, to Liliana Ramirez of Goose Creek Memorial High School; Chester passed away three years ago, but he was known for his famous Chili recipe that is served annually at the club’s Chili Feast. This honor has passed to the presenter, Johnny Gaeke.

Pat McPhee Scholarship, presented by his widow Barbara McPhee, to Tristen Flores of Crosby High School.

Tony Irwin Scholarship, presented by Andy Scott, to Haleigh Shaver of Crosby High School.

The Rotary Club of Highlands, and president Andy Scott, say: Congratulations to all!