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Student Volunteer Award: 2014 Recipients
Scholarship America's Dollars for Scholars communities work every day on a local, grassroots level to help their students get a college degree. Student volunteers are an invaluable resource in those communities, and the Student Volunteer Award (SVA) is Scholarship America's way of honoring students who embody the volunteer spirit of Dollars for Scholars.
We are pleased to announce the 20 student winners of the Student Volunteer Award. These exceptional students received $1,000 scholarships, and the national winner earned a $1,000 renewable award for up to four years. These awards are funded by Scholarship America – including the Scholarship America Staff Award, provided through funds raised by our own employees.
National Student Volunteer of the Year: Helen Montie
Congratulations to Helen Montie of Bedford, Massachusetts, Scholarship America's 2014 National Student Volunteer of the Year! Helen was nominated for the award by her local Dollars for Scholars affiliate, Lincoln-Sudbury Scholarship Fund Dollars for Scholars. While Helen looks forward to attending college this fall, it was just five years ago when her life was turned upside down with a chilling diagnosis: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
Her cancer diagnosis meant that Helen’s daily life as a then-eighth grader abruptly shifted from sports, orchestra, friends and schoolwork to long stays at a hospital and clinic in Boston. Usual activities the rest of us take for granted -- running, jumping and, eventually, walking -- became impossible. But a tragic diagnosis wouldn't stop Helen from fighting for her life -- or from giving back.
Student Volunteer Award Winners
Haley, currently a high school senior from North Billerica, Massachusetts, has been a Counselor-in-Training at a young girls’ grief camp for over four years. Her own experience of losing her father at a very young age moved her to give back to the same organization that has helped her throughout the years. Through it all, she has discovered that “a journey fraught with difficulties doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have its rewards, moments of true peace or beauty.” Haley was nominated for the award by the Billerica Scholarship Foundation Dollars for Scholars affiliate; after graduation, she plans on pursuing a degree in Marine and Environmental Sciences. By pursuing her lifelong passion for the environment, the ocean and its creatures, she hopes to make a difference in the world.
Dylan has spent countless hours volunteering in a variety of different settings throughout the years, including helping the youth, homeless and elderly. He also spends much of his time volunteering at the local bridge house, docking boats and providing food for the boaters. Dylan is also passionate about basketball and track. His devotion for sports has led him to coach, referee and fundraise for several youth basketball programs – a volunteer opportunity that he plans of continuing throughout his lifetime. Dylan, a high school senior from Phoenix, New York, was nominated by Phoenix Central School District Dollars for Scholars. He plans on pursuing a medical degree after high school and will be one of the first in his family to attend college.
Ethan is passionate about music and has donated much of his time volunteering and performing at special events. His musical talents are numerous and include the guitar, percussion and vocals. After high school, he plans on pursuing a music education and psychology degree, in order to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a music therapist, as he firmly believes that “music brings comfort and hope to others in times of stress and despair.” Ethan, nominated by Le Sueur-Henderson Dollars for Scholars, is a high school senior from Le Sueur, Minnesota and is the recipient of a Scholarship America Staff Award.
Throughout her life Alys has faced several challenges, including an early diagnosis of scoliosis, which resulted in a series of various treatments affecting her life immensely. Ultimately, Alys was able to undergo a successful spinal surgery and after months of recovery, she emerged with a new passion to improve the lives of others – specifically those with neurodegenerative diseases – through scientific research. Alys, currently a high school senior, already recognizes that there is a communication gap between the scientific community and society. Part of her journey will include finding ways “to make science more approachable, thus more prominent in our culture, leading to the limitless power of informed civic action.” Alys was nominated by St. Peter-Kasota Dollars for Scholars; she is from St. Peter, Minnesota and is a recipient of the Scholarship America Staff Award.
Alicia, currently a college sophomore, began volunteering at a very early age. While in grade school, she began dispensing milk jugs throughout the classrooms, in an effort to raise money for the repair of a damaged monument in her hometown of Candia, New Hampshire. Throughout her life, Alicia has truly demonstrated a passion for helping people, and her volunteer efforts are numerous. Whether it’s participating in outreach programs, leading annual toy drives, painting children’s’ faces or playing bingo with senior citizens, Alicia takes on any opportunity she can to help out whenever and wherever she can. She believes that “life is not about getting all you hoped for but enough of what you need.” Nominated by Candia Dollars for Scholars, Alicia is currently pursuing her psychology degree.
The importance of education has always been a driving force in Paula’s life. She has always been an avid learner, and with the aid of her mother, was able to read her first book by the time she was 14 months old. Currently, a high school senior from Tucson, Arizona, Paula plans on pursuing a degree in Early Childhood Education after high school. She believes that as an educator, she can “instill a love of learning and give children an early head start in life – making a difference in their lives.” Currently, she spends her time volunteering at local libraries and schools, providing other youth with the same educational opportunities provided to her; she was nominated for the award by the Sunnyside District Alumni Association Dollars for Scholars affiliate.
Savannah has always had a passion for sports and volunteering. She has been an active volunteer for Special Olympics, Junior Olympic Volleyball and community education camps for school-aged children. When someone very close to her became pregnant at an early age, Savannah began to understand the importance of planning for her future. After seeing the effects it had on her friend’s academic and future goals, Savannah found a new drive to succeed in hers. After graduation, she plans on pursuing a degree in Special Education to continue her lifelong passion of helping those with special needs. Savannah, currently a high school senior, is from Nevis, Minnesota, and was nominated by Nevis-Pam Lindow Foundation Dollars for Scholars.
Benjamin, from Mendota Heights, Minnesota, has been an active volunteer in a variety of organizations. As the Vice President of Key Club, a student volunteer organization dedicated to community service, he has “learned to be proactive to improve people’s lives by planning and implementing community service projects.” His passion for literature has also led to volunteer opportunities for the school newspaper and book club. Through his writing, he hopes to inform and educate others about the current events and issues within his community. Benjamin, nominated by Henry Sibley Dollars for Scholars, is a recipient of a Scholarship America Staff Award, and he plans on pursuing his literary degree after high school.
Kelandra, a college sophomore from Easthampton, Massachusetts, has always been passionate about helping out those in need -- including animals. Since the age of eight, Kelandra has been volunteering at the local humane society. She has also been actively involved in youth camps, survival centers and after-school childcare programs. She is currently pursuing a social science degree and highly interested in gender and women’s studies, community activism and social justice issues. Nominated for this award by Easthampton Dollars for Scholars, Kelandra’s ultimate goal is to work within a nonprofit organization that focuses on adolescent girls in underserved areas, where she can help to provide them with skills for the future.
Mikaela, a college freshman from Easthampton, Massachusetts, has volunteered her time throughout the years by working with youth, underprivileged families and shelter animals. She has worked on several community service projects, which include preparing meals at local shelters and cleaning vegetables for the local food bank. Mikaela understands the importance of the daily struggle for many to afford everyday necessities, and she strives to help those families out by donating her time and support. When she’s not volunteering at the shelter or survival center, she spends her time volunteering as a crew team member, teaching kayaking and rowing lessons to children and adults. Like her sister Kelandra, she was nominated by Easthampton Dollars for Scholars.
Thomas “Mitchell” Lee
Mitchell, a high school senior from Edwards, Colorado, has taken on many opportunities to volunteer his time, seek new experiences and learn more about a wide array of topics. After dealing with constant bullying while in middle school, he learned to make the best out of a bad situation. He emerged with a newfound sense of strength and a new outlook on life. “I learned that turning a negative into a positive is the only way to go,” he said. Mitchell, nominated by Youth Foundation Dollars for Scholars, has remained extremely motivated, seeking more personal growth through volunteering. He enjoys giving back to his community, and has spent numerous hours as a volunteer tutor for local youth.
Holden’s embrace of community service is truly remarkable. A high school senior from Walworth, New York, Holden wrote in his scholarship application, “I believe that the world needs more compassionate people if we want a brighter place to live.” He has helped organize and execute fundraisers and events, including the local American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. He has also spent countless hours as a member and camp counselor for the Boy Scouts of America; there, he was able to work with a variety of students, including those with special needs. Holden, nominated by Gananda Dollars for Scholars, is also truly passionate about music and hopes to share his love of music with the world by pursuing a college degree in Music Education.
Throughout her life, Kathryn has spent her time volunteering in local communities, as well as internationally. She enjoys her time helping those in need as much as possible and has even helped launch an anti-bullying campaign that has been implemented throughout various schools. Kathryn is also passionate about improving living conditions for those in developing nations, and has helped to build schools, raise money for hospitals and bring awareness to crises around the world. Her ultimate goal is to “work for a nonprofit or development corporation dedicated to women’s issues and education in developing countries.” Kathryn, a college sophomore from Arlington, Massachusetts, is currently pursuing a degree in International Studies. She was nominated by the John J. Bilafer Arlington Dollars for Scholars affiliate and is a recipient of the Scholarship America Staff Award.
Katelyn, a high school senior, has been involved in multiple community service organizations throughout her school, community and church. She has mentored elementary students, as well as her peers. Katelyn has also donated her time with her church group to help build a home, construct a retaining wall and help out at an orphanage. Her involvement in this array of organizations has led to leadership roles, where she has coordinated multiple volunteer activities and events. “My main goal in life has been to help people by ensuring that everyone is treated fairly and… has an opportunity to succeed.” Her dedication to her lifelong goal is remarkable as she plans on pursuing a degree in criminal justice to further her capabilities to help others. Katelyn is from Days Creek, Oregon and was nominated by Days Creek Dollars for Scholars.
Abbilyn, a high school senior, has helped to organize several in-school community service events, including a blood drive, toy and food drive, and fundraisers to help those in need within her community. She has also been a part of an organization to increase awareness about bullying in her school district. Additionally, Abbilyn spends her time volunteering with her local church group, where she has spent time helping out local residents with their home projects as well as teaching Bible school to young children. After graduation, Abbilyn plans on pursuing a degree in health and medicine. Upon finishing her higher education, she intends to return to her hometown of Sauk Centre, Minnesota to continue giving back to a “community that has given [her] so many wonderful opportunities.” Abbilyn was nominated by Sauk Centre Dollars for Scholars.
“Volunteering gives me a sense of pride because I know that what I’m doing will benefit others and it might get others involved as well,” writes Derik Rodgers, a high school senior from New Freedom, Pennsylvania. From an early age, he has spent his time helping his community through food, shelter and blood drives as well as by sending care packages to our soldiers overseas. Derik has also taken a very active role in nature and conservation projects through the Boy Scouts of America; his projects have included invasive species removal, trail restoration and preservation. He is currently leading a project with his Venture Crew to plant over 100 trees within a local park. Derik was nominated by Southern York County School District Foundation Dollars for Scholars and plans on pursuing an environmental studies degree after graduation.
Aubrey, a high school senior from Spring Grove, Pennsylvania, has volunteered for numerous hours at her local library and her county’s parks and recreation program, along with participating in many community service projects through the Girl Scouts of America. However, it is her highly demanding role as a “foster parent” with the Seeing Eye Puppy Raising Club that truly sets her apart. As an around-the-clock caregiver and trainer for Seeing Eye dogs, Aubrey’s volunteer efforts never end. She has already raised two Seeing Eye dogs and plans on continuing her efforts for many years to come. Nominated by Southern York County School District Foundation Dollars for Scholars, Aubrey plans on majoring in communications with a minor in sign language. Her ultimate goal is to work for a service dog organization upon completion of her degree.
Jacob was taught the importance of compassion and patience at a very young age, after his younger brother suffered a subdural hematoma and stroke – permanently altering his life. This event helped Jacob learn that he possessed a significant inner strength, at a time when he wanted to give up on everything around him. Since then, Jacob says he has strived “to be much more sympathetic and empathetic to the people around [him].” He has volunteered his time as a camp counselor, assisting and mentoring young children and actively participating in local clean-up initiatives. Hailing from Hines, Oregon, Jacob has been nominated by Harney County Dollars for Scholars. Jacob plans on pursuing a degree in the health and medicine field after graduating from high school this spring.
Throughout her life, Keilyn has volunteered her time in a variety of ways – from working at local food pantries and shelters, to fundraising for multiple organizations, to picking up litter in local rail yards. Her ambitious attitude has also led her to complete a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program while still in high school. Since then, she has donated her time volunteering and assisting at a local hospital, as well as a nursing facility. Keilyn, a high school senior from Huxley, Iowa, was nominated by Ballard Community Dollars for Scholars. After graduation, she will be pursuing several degrees in the health field, ultimately leading her to a career in psychiatry.
Dream Award Supporters
Scholarship America’s Dream Award received its initial funding thanks to the support of Katie Couric; since the program was created, more than 50 other supporters have also stepped forward to help establish this innovative new scholarship vision. We thank all of them and invite you to join the mission!
The Scholarship Coach
Scholarship America's blog, The Scholarship Coach, appears weekly at USNews.com, featuring expert advice on all kinds of scholarship issues. Here on the site, we feature a new highlight from the blog every week, and you can also download a free Scholarship Coach e-book!
Focus On The Finish Line
Scholarship America is dedicated to helping students get their degrees. Our 2013 Annual Report, Focus on the Finish Line, features statistics, stories, and student accounts of the importance of college completion.
Visit the online report to learn more and hear from our President, Lauren Segal.