TROY — On Wednesday, the Future Begins Today recognized 33 college students for their hard work.
Founded in 1993, the organization has two components. The first part focuses on students when they are in fourth grade to help them succeed in school through homework help, mentoring with a community member, and hosting events for the students and their families to have family-child bonding time.
The second component is offering help to students pursuing post-secondary education.
According to the Future Begins Today Executive Director Cheryl Cotner, since the inception of the grant-giving in 2000 and including the 2015 totals, $620,000 has gone to help students continue their education, all of which came as donations from community members or from proceeds from the strawberry salsa sales at the Strawberry Festival.
The criteria for the recipients include maintaining a 2.0 grade point average and performing 15 hours of community service.
The keynote speaker was Catherine Stanley, a graduate of Cleveland Art Institute with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in biomedical art illustration.
Stanley started with the Future Begins Today as a fourth-grader at Kyle School. She graduated from Troy High School in 2009 and studied at both Edison and Bowling Green before going to Cleveland.
While there, she got to observe surgeries and autopsies, work in the botanical gardens at the zoo, and referred to her internship at the Cleveland Clinic as being one of her best experiences.
Her hard work allowed her to be chosen as one of six Ohio finalists for the Award in Excellence for Visual Art from the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.
She encouraged the current students to network with classmates and professors and to remember that people do not forget kindness when a students or graduate comes to them needing help, as well as not judge themselves against others.
“It’s hard sometimes, you feel a lot of competition when you’re in school,” she said. “There’s always going to be people better than you and you have to try hard not to put yourself up against others. Only judge yourself on how much better you can make your skills and your abilities.”
University of Cincinnati junior Bradley Stapleton won the Bill and Carla Lohrer Award for $500. Cotner shared Stapleton is on the Dean’s List and studies information technology, is a resident assistant for freshman men and volunteered as a chaperone at the Tim Horton’s Summer Camp for junior high students.
The Alan Zunke Education Award went to Tianna Newton, an incoming Ohio University freshman, which is worth $250. Zunke, who was present at the awards, was recognized for being one of the founding teachers alongside Jill Wilson.
Four students received the one-time Lucy Award in honor of Lucy DiSalvo. They were Wright State University senior Matt Davis, University of Kentucky junior Kurtis Johnson, University of Cincinnati sophomore Lily Minnich, and OU senior Carolann Stanley.
Also present at the awards were Nick Burk, Isaiah Purves and Raiann Rohlfs of Bowling Green State University; Haley Farr and Gregory Peterson of Cedarville University; Zechariah Bond of Earlham College; Victoria Fenter of Eastern Kentucky University; Courtney Metzger of Edison Community College; Gregory Joseph of Hobart Institute of Welding; Jacob Farr of Indiana Wesleyan University; Stephanie Metzger of Morehead State University; and Trend Wood of Mt. Vernon Nazarene University.
Ashley Littrell and Jeremy Sierra were present as students of OU; Alex Prouty of Ohio State University; Patrick Canavan of Thomas More College; Celia Stanley of UC; Jason Slone of the University of Dayton; Andrew Bricker of the University of Findlay; Megan Besecker and Victoria Merrell of Urbana University; and Audrey Banning, Matt Davis, Brianna Duben and Valeri Gibson of WSU.
Mike Huffman of the University of Northwestern Ohio was not able to attend.
Reach Allison C. Gallagher at email@example.com or on Twitter @Troydailynews.