Rotary awards $125,750 in college scholarships

EVERETT — One by one, dozens of Snohomish County students got a generous gift for their future.

The Rotary Club of Everett on Tuesday morning announced $125,750 in 42 different college scholarships at an annual awards ceremony held at Naval Station Everett.

One by one, grownups from various local schools and civic organizations took the stage to talk about the young people’s hard work, their leadership and dedication, and the obstacles they’ve overcome.

Young faces beamed. Parents rushed up to snap pictures, some with tears in their eyes.

Ted Wenta, event emcee and a scholarship organizer, encouraged the students and their families to cheer for each other and thank each other.

“You look out here and you just see nothing but pride,” he said.

One winner, So Jung Chang, of Mariner High School, took a college-level Advanced Placement test the morning before the reception, organizers said.

She wants to study molecular biology and music at Central Washington University. She liked the smaller size of the campus, and the hiking and outdoors opportunities nearby. She also hopes to attend medical school.

Many of the winners held jobs while in high school, organizers said. Many are the first in their family to go to college. Many are inspiring younger siblings.

Several winners came to the U.S. as children because of war, religious persecution or other dangers in their home countries.

Florence Nakimera, originally from Uganda, attends Everett Community College. She hopes to transfer to the University of Washington and study nursing.

“I want to be a midwife,” she said. “That’s my dream.”

Bonnie Johnson, of Bothell High School, won the Bernie Webber scholarship, named after the local artist.

Scholarship organizers said they picked her not just because of her artistic ability, but because in interviews she also seemed kind, pleasant and well-rounded.

Steven Parks, of Cascade High School, wants to study mechanical engineering and design technology to help fight climate change.

Rayme Rogge, of Everett High School, in scholarship materials, thanked her grandfather for teaching her the value of education. He taught her to work hard and tackle challenges, especially in academics, event organizers said.

At her school, she’s known for helping others.

One of the larger awards, the $9,000 Loren Baker scholarship, went to Samantha Hemler, of Henry M. Jackson High School. Her jaw dropped as they announced the amount she won.

Hemler plans to attend Gonzaga University in the fall, said Jenily Nystrom, who helped raise the teen.

“I’m just super, super proud of her,” Nystrom said. “She has worked really, really hard. She’s going to have this amazing opportunity.”

Barrett McElroy, of Everett High School, hugged his parents after learning he’d won a $13,500 scholarship.

His father also shook his hand.

“I’m very grateful,” the teen said. “I can’t even believe that.”

After the ceremony, Jeong Lee snapped pictures of her daughter, Heather Lee, of Kamiak High School, holding her scholarship certificates.

Heather Lee felt excited and proud, she said.

“It’s great. I’m speechless,” she said.

“I’m so happy. She is my daughter. It’s really good. I’m so lucky,” said her mother.

One winner, Zahra’a Al-Mayyahi, who attends the Sno-Isle Tech Skills Center, is studying to be a medical assistant. She moved to the U.S. in 2011 from Iraq through Jordan, scholarship organizers said. She has been learning English, Latin and Greek at the same time to keep up with complex medical terminology. She wants to study microbiology.

After the ceremony, she joined her family at their table.

“I’m very happy,” she said. “I love it. It’s my future.”

Over the years, the Rotary has given more than $3.3 million in college scholarships.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

Winners by school

Archbishop Murphy High School: Emily Phillips, Anthony Bozich Scholarship, $13,500; Mary Van Hollebeke, Dwayne Lane Auto Centers scholarship, $1,000

Bothell High School: Bonnie Johnson, Bernie Webber scholarship, $1,000

Cascade High School: Breanna Kelsey, Botesch Nash and Hall scholarship, $1,000; Noble Huffaker, Providence General Foundation, $2,000; Steven Parks, Pat Miller Memorial scholarship: $2,500

Everett Community College: Florence Nakimera, Everett Clinic scholarship, $2,500; Jacquelyn Julien, Fluke Corporation scholarship, $2,500

Everett High School: Bailey McMullen, AVID College Start-Up, $500; Barrett McElroy, Anthony Bozich Scholarship, $13,500; Cherise Shaver, AVID College Start-Up, $500, and AVID Scholarship, $2,500; Christian Abrego, AVID Scholarship, $1,000; Christopher Goryns, AVID College Start-Up, $500, and AVID Scholarship, $5,000; Damian Wafstet, AVID Scholarship, $1,000; Gerardo Rodriguez, Anthony Bozich Scholarship, $13,500; Gurpartap Singh, AVID College Start-Up, $500; Idriz Aksamovic, AVID College Start-Up, $500, and AVID Scholarship, $5,000; Jasmine Daniels, AVID College Start-Up, $500; Jonathan Martinez, AVID College Start-Up, $500; Justine Ruthstrom, AVID Scholarship, $1,000; Kaytlin Phillips, AVID Scholarship, $1,000; Marco Galvan, AVID College Start-Up, $500; Mirna Barraza, AVID College Start-Up, $500, and AVID Scholarship, $2,500; Rayme Rogge, Evelyn Hoffman scholarship, $1,500; Sergio Barrera, AVID College Start-Up, $500

Henry M. Jackson High School: Kenneth Neaville*, Brett Akio Jensen scholarship, $4,000; Samantha Hemler, Loren Baker scholarship, $9,000

Kamiak High School: Heather Lee, Fred Sjoholm scholarship, $1,000; Victoria Niewohner, Past President’s Scholarship, $3,750

Mariner High School: Anna Kovalevich, EverTrust Foundation scholarship, $4,000; Ashley Combs, Anthony Bozich Scholarship, $13,500; Monserratt Ochoa, Moss Adams scholarship, $1,000; So Jung Chang, Puget Sound Kidney Center scholarship, $5,000

Sequoia High School: Daysi Rodriguez, AVID College Start-Up, $500; Nina Kiaer, AVID College Start-Up, $500, and AVID Scholarship, $1,000; Noelani Cain, Rubatino Refuse scholarship, $2,000

Sno-Isle Tech Skills Center: Zahra’a Al-Mayyahi, Hol Mabley / Gamut 360 scholarship, $2,000

Correction, May 15, 2013: Neaville’s name was misspelled in an earlier version of this story.

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