This year, once again I had the pleasure of serving on the Rotary Club of Des Moines college scholarship committee. One winner is chosen from each of Des Moines' six high schools — East, Hoover, Lincoln, North, Roosevelt and Scavo — to receive an $8000 scholarship. If you're doing the math, that's $48,000 in scholarship money.
Teammates Kelly Sargent, Mark Lyons and I have been responsible for selecting the East High winner for at least the last 10 years. School counselors narrow the field to four semi-finalists, and we reviews their applications, transcripts, activities, personal essays and in the last step of the process, interview them to select the winner.
Invariably, it's a rewarding and heartening undertaking to visit with these exceptional young people, but the flip side of that is that they're each and everyone so deserving that it makes our job very difficult.
Normally we would have interviewed the four finalists at East High on a given day, but since classes at all Des Moines public schools were canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, the interview process was a bit more challenging. Mark persevered, however, contacted our finalists and set up Zoom interviews, and it all went smoothly.
Our three runners-up were Jasmine Dao, Sunya Hardi, and Rachel Puok, who will each receive a $100 gift Target gift card to buy items they might need for college. The winner of the $2000 a year ($8000 total) scholarship is Priscilla Macias.
Priscilla plans to attend Iowa State University to pursue a degree in science. She ranks eighth in her class of 469 at East with a weighted GPA of 4.23. Her school activities include cross country, National Honor Society, Science Bound and Link Crew which gives incoming freshman advice on acclimating to high school. She also serves as class secretary.
Outside of school, Priscilla works 16 to 20 hours a week at HyVee to contribute to the income in her single-parent household. She mentioned in her application that her parents endured a difficult domestic dispute a couple of years ago. When we asked her how she dealt with that, her answer was “I just persevere.”
Good advice for all of us today.
Top row from left to right: Nicole Marinero Cea (Lincoln), Jessica Cruz Hernandez (Hoover), Ruth Bropleh (North). Second row from left to right: Priscilla Macias (East), Emily Adams (Scavo), Nyana Robinson (Roosevelt)