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June 21, 2013

Scholarship program helps students pay for college

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Kevin Robinson
DeCA public affairs specialist

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More than $1 million in financial assistance will go to 670 students, considered to be among the nation’s best and brightest, thanks to this year’s Scholarships for Military Children program.

Since its start in 2001, the Scholarships for Military Children program has awarded $1,500 scholarships to 7,412 children of active duty, Guard and Reserve, and retired service members worldwide.

The Defense Commissary Agency participates in the program by accepting applications of eligible children and submitting their packages to Scholarship Managers, a national, nonprofit, scholarship management services organization.

Stores celebrate the achievements of their local selections with a ceremony in the commissary. These ceremonies create a lot of excitement for the military community as they acknowledge the achievements of their recipients, said DeCA Deputy Director Michael J. Dowling.

“When you think about these young men and women, they are the best of the best,” Dowling said. “According to Scholarship Managers, there were 4,675 people who applied, and 670 who will receive a scholarship. Doing the math, they represent the top 15 percent. This means they’re exceptional.”

“Many of them are high school valedictorians,” he said. “This $1,500 scholarship helps them move forward in their pursuit of higher education.”

Commissary vendors, manufacturers, brokers, suppliers and the general public fund the program through donations. And, all donations are applied solely to funding the scholarships, said Jim Weiskopf, vice president of Fisher House Foundation, a nonprofit organization that assists family members with temporary lodging when they visit hospitalized service members.

“We want to thank those companies that have supported this very special quality of life program every year since 2001,” said Weiskopf, whose organization underwrites the cost of administering the scholarship program. “I also want to thank the store directors. They do so much more than sell groceries. They are integral parts of their local communities.”

During the selection process, Scholarship Managers reviews the applicants’ grade-point averages, their extracurricular and volunteer activities, and their essays on an assigned topic.

Two of this year’s 670 scholarship recipients, Kathryn Barisano and Matthew Schneck, spoke to an audience of commissary employees and industry members at the DeCA scholarship luncheon April 25. The luncheon was held during the two-day 2013 DeCA and American Logistics Association Commissary Roundtable event in Richmond, Va.

Barisano, the daughter of a retired soldier, is a senior at Thomas Dale High School in Chester, Va. She is a member of both the National Honor Society and Latin Honor Society, and as the captain of both her school’s varsity field hockey and soccer teams, earned all district, all region, and Metro honors in both sports. Barisano will attend James Madison University in the fall.

Schneck, also the son of a retired soldier, is a senior at Prince George High School in Prince George, Va., where he has a 4.88 GPA and is ranked No. 1 in his class of 410 students. He has also earned varsity letters in volleyball, track and field, and soccer. Schneck received the William and Mary Leadership Award and is president of the Virginia Student Council Association. He will attend Virginia Commonwealth University in the fall, where he plans to major in biomedical engineering; he is in a program that guarantees his acceptance into the university’s School of Medicine upon his graduation.

This year’s essay topic was on the applicant’s most-admired presidential first lady. Barisano wrote her essay on Laura Bush, and Schneck penned his on Eleanor Roosevelt. The three most popular topics among the scholarship recipients were Roosevelt, with 224 essays; 105 for Betty Ford, and 75 for current first lady Michelle Obama.

For information about the 2014 program, check the website, http://www.militaryscholar.org, in December. To see a list of this year’s recipients, go to the website and click “2013 Scholarship Winners Announced.”




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