Huntington Rotary Club officials enthusiastically awarded $16,000 worth of scholarships to five remarkable members of Huntington High School’s Class of 2019.
The Service Above Self scholarship recipients include Yaidelis Acevedo, Christiana DeLuca, Jeraine Nieves-Morales, Alyssa Sorensen and Phoebe Walther.
Christiana DeLuca with the Rotary Club's Ford Spilsbury.
Rotary Club officials Ford Spilsbury, Robert Bishop and Frank Plesche presented the awards and spoke about the honorees during this year’s senior academic awards ceremony in the high school auditorium.
The Huntington Rotary Club was founded in 1925. It is a chapter of Rotary International, a 1.2 million member worldwide service organization.
The Huntington Rotary Club has awarded scholarships to remarkable Huntington High School seniors since the 1930s. This year’s recipients are held in high regard by members of the school’s administration and faculty as well as by their classmates.
The five Huntington college-bound seniors were feted at the Rotary Club’s monthly luncheon at Mac’s in the village. They were formally presented with their scholarships at the gathering.
“Each year we are honored to meet and talk with finalists for our club’s Service Above Self scholarships,” Mr. Spilsbury told the crowd attending the ceremony. “Our goal is to bestow scholarships to graduating seniors who have served the community and hopefully will become pillars of their community throughout their lives.”
Ms. Sorensen captured the largest of any of the scholarships; a $6,000 award, which will be put to good use at Drexel University, where the teenager intends to begin preparing for a career as a physician assistant.
“A positive attitude and a desire to make life better for all those she comes in contact with are hallmarks of who Alyssa is, despite the hardships life throws her way,” Mr. Spilsbury said. “She wrote in her application: ‘My life has consisted of helping my sick brother and mother, but instead of looking at this as a hardship, I want to use this as motivation to go above and beyond and to help anyone who needs it.’ We are very confident that this will be her mantra and Alyssa will truly leave her mark on any community she becomes a part of.”
Ms. Acevedo and Ms. DeLuca both captured $3,000 Service Above Self scholarships for exemplifying the Rotary’s motto “through their contributions to the community and future potential to further the Rotary mission.”
Ms. Acevedo is headed to SUNY College at New Paltz to study business. Regarded by her teachers as upbeat, ambitious, poised, charismatic and a “great kid with a positive attitude,” the teenager has done quite a bit of volunteer work around the high school and in the community. Her fluency in Spanish allowed her to assist her physics teacher with Spanish speaking students.
Ms. DeLuca plans to study geology at SUNY College at Brockport in preparation for a career as a research scientist. She has been very active in a variety of high school organizations and has assisted at community food drives and in the Huntington Interfaith Housing Initiative that feeds and shelters the hungry and homeless. She has volunteered alongside Rotary Club members and they have been able to get to know her and come to understand what an outstanding young woman she is.
Ms. Nieves-Morales and Ms. Walther both garnered $2,000 Rotary scholarships for their exceptional performance throughout high school and their potential and promise moving forward in life.
A gifted and award winning artist, Ms. Nieves-Morales has not allowed sight impairments to stand in the way of her developing a spectacular set of talents. She has earned honors in the school and community and is well known throughout the local world of art.
An inspiration to her classmates, Ms. Nieves-Morales is headed to Guttman Community College in Manhattan. It overlooks Bryant Park and is City University of New York’s first new community college in more than 40 years. The school features 18 week semesters, providing students with a longer academic experience than typical for a college.
Ms. Walther intends to study early childhood education/special education at SUNY College at Geneseo in preparation for a teaching career. She has traveled to New Orleans with Habitat for Humanity, served dinners to needy families with Project Hope, counseled children at a summer bible camp, helped bring attention to the opioid crisis on Long Island and volunteered with Huntington’s Interact Club chapter.
“It was very evident that working with children and teaching is what really motivates Phoebe,” Mr. Plesche said.
As the five recent Huntington graduates head off to college, their teachers and classmates and Rotary Club officials all believe the teenagers are destined for success.