Dollars for Scholars doles out dozens of scholarships

Julie Lewis | The Daily StarJade Ackley, recipient of the Steven A. Lutz Memorial Scholarship, speaks during the Oneonta Dollars for Scholars ceremony in the Goodrich Theatre at the State University College at Oneonta on Tuesday.

Four dozen college-bound Oneonta High School students received scholarships through Oneonta's Dollars for Scholars program at SUNY Oneonta's Fine Arts Building on Tuesday, June 4. 

Oneonta Dollars for Scholars President David Brower gave the opening remarks. The first program was held in 1992, he said, awarding eight $500 scholarships. Since then, the organization has doled out more than 1,000 scholarships totaling nearly $800,000. Oneonta Dollars for Scholars is a member of Scholarship America, a nonprofit organization that has distributed $4.2 billion to more than 2 million students, according to its website. 

This year, 16 of the students received multiple awards, bringing the total number of scholarships to 64. On stage, students shared personal achievements or experiences they were most proud of. Whether it was overcoming an injury, illness or loss of a loved one; moving to a new town; getting stellar SAT scores or being the first in their family to graduate high school, most students expressed that their experiences shaped them into the people they are today. 

Mary Noorlander, 16, received the Clifford A. and Elizabeth P. McVinney Memorial Scholarship. Graduating a year early is something Noorlander knew she would do since her first day of high school, she said. Noorlander told The Daily Star she has a penchant for travel and will use the money to study comparative literature at the American University of Paris. 

Aiden Harrison received the Dr. Rudolph and Gwen L. Schuster Scholarship and the Susan Remillard Memorial Scholarship. He heads to SUNY Oneonta this fall and plans to study veterinary medicine. 

"My greatest accomplishment during high school, the one I am most proud of, would be coming out as gay," he read at the podium. "Despite bullying, name calling and countless nights crying, I'm the strongest I've ever been." 

Emmalyn Richard, winner of the Dolores O. and Daniel G. Noonan Family Scholarship, said she is deferring her scholarship for one year while she catches up with school she missed recovering from a back injury. 

"My injuries slowed my pace but never put me at a standstill," she said in her remarks. "Today I look back and I think one thing: The only time you should ever look back is to see how far you've come." 

Jade Ackley, who won the Steven A. Lutz Memorial Scholarship, told The Daily Star she will put some of the money toward a new laptop for college. She will major in business administration at SUNY Brockport and said she hopes to open a coffee and food cafe when she's older. Public speaking is something Ackley has never done before and is a skill she wants to develop, she said. 

Brower, a 1996 Dollars for Scholars recipient, told The Daily Star he is glad to see a new generation of students benefit from the program and to give back to the organization that supported his educational goals.

"We are tremendously proud of the students and their accomplishments," Brower said. "It's always inspiring ... to see the types of careers they're about to embark on, it's very humbling and makes all this hard work worthwhile."

Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at 607-441-7221 or skarikehalli@thedailystar.com. Follow her on Twitter at @DS_ShwetaK.