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Service above self: Rotary distributes local scholarships

Sheyla Alvarado cherished the scholarship she collected from the Port Arthur Rotary Club on Thursday. For the Bob Hope Charter High School senior, headed for Lamar State College Port Arthur in the fall semester, it was her first scholarship.

That was the case for her classmate, Bilda Montoya, too. She’s bound for Lamar University, where she will study chemical engineering.

In all, the Rotary Club distributed 16 scholarships of $500 to $1,500 to graduates of Bob Hope, Memorial High School and Sabine Pass High School — $10,300 in all. Most attended a Rotary Club luncheon in their honor. Among the few who couldn’t attend was Ngoc Kim Huynh, Memorial’s No. 3 gradate, who was taking an Advanced Placement statistics test for college credit.

Instead, she wrote a letter of thanks to the Rotarians, and said she intended to study at Texas A&M this autumn, and eventually return to Port Arthur.

Dr. Johnny E. Brown, who chaired the scholarship committee, looks at the graduates’ celebratory cake. (Ken Stickney/The News)

“I believe we that we all have the duty to return to our hometown and give back to the community because they have helped build us into the men and women we are today,” she wrote.

That apparently was pleasing to the ears of the Rotarians, who value “service over self” and who hold a long tradition of supporting Port Arthur schools and students.

In all, 71 students applied for the Rotary scholarships, which were based on grades, student activities, an essay and need. Initially, scholarship committee chair Johnny E. Brown said, the goal was to distribute some $7,000 in scholarships to local students. But the scholarship committee found so many deserving applicants, that the club members at a recent meeting pledged another $3,000-plus from their own pockets, hoping to help additional young people on the list get their college start.

“We’re very excited about the recipients,” Brown said. “Each demonstrated excellence in achievement at their schools and interest in serving the community above themselves.

“The committee did an excellent job in selecting those awarded.”

Those honored with scholarships included:

Bob Hope Charter High School: Viviana Gutierrez, Sheyla Alvarado, Bilda Montoya, Oscar A. Damos Escobar, Arely Lopez, Maria Salazar.

Memorial High School: Ngoc Kim Huynh, Kayla Alyssa Broussard, Kristie Nhung Pham, Thuy-Linh Nguyen, Jasmine Rachel Cormier, Johnasha Coleman, Stephanie Sanchez.

Sabine Pass High School: Natalie Essex, Asa Alyce Lewis, Deidre Renee Dages.


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