Rotary awards $149,500 to ‘impressive’ students

EVERETT — Audrey Taber stood in front of the room of students and parents while her guidance counselor at Cascade High School read off a list of her qualities: focused, determined, humble.

“But she’s one of the most brilliant students we’ve ever had at Cascade High,” Kim Taylor said.

Taber was awarded one of four Anthony G. Bozich scholarships from the Rotary Club of Everett on Tuesday night.

“I feel very honored. This was very unexpected,” Taber said.

The scholarship, totaling $17,500 over four years, will help her when she enrolls in the University of Washington’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering this fall.

“I’m really interested in hydrology, so I want to work in water management and making efficient water treatment systems,” Taber said.

The Everett Rotary gave out $149,500 in scholarship money Tuesday at its annual presentation.

The club gives out scholarships to local students every year and has given out more than $1.5 million over the years.

This year, the awards were given to 43 students in public schools within the city of Everett, plus one to an Everett Community College student.

“The kids are very impressive,” said Mark Valentine, this year’s Rotary president.

“Some of them are impressive because they are brilliant and articulate and energetic, and some of them are kids who have just had a lot of bum luck and not let it hold them back. You have to admire their determination,” Valentine said.

Soledad Medina held back tears when she received a $5,000 AVID Scholarship. The scholarships are for students in the AVID program, which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination. It’s a college-preparatory program for students with academic promise but of below-average income or other reduced means.

Medina, who is 20 and graduating from Sequoia High School, is also raising a 3-year-old son at home.

“I’m really thankful,” said Medina, who plans to enroll in Everett Community College in the fall and become a medical assistant.

“It has been a struggle, but that struggle has helped me a lot. I don’t see it as a bad thing,” Medina said.

The scholarships were presented at the Everett School District’s Community Resource Center and cheered as their names were called to receive their awards, which ranged from a $500 AVID college supplies shopping spree to the four $17,500 Bozich scholarships. The Bozich awards were named for a Rotarian who died in 2004 and left more than $1 million to fund scholarships in science or technology.

Among the more personal awards are the Brett Akio Jensen scholarship, given by Don and Jan Jensen on behalf of their son, a Cascade High graduate who died in 2002 after falling from a roof-deck at the University of Washington.

This year’s recipient was Ngoc-Thao Nguyen, who plans to major in chemistry at the University of Washington in the fall and eventually become a pediatrician, a dream inspired in part by the 2014 death of fellow Cascade student Michael CQAlcayaga from leukemia.

“Once you become ill, you always need to have someone there to help you,” Nguyen said.

Don Jensen, Brett Jensen’s father, said he couldn’t be happier with Nguyen receiving the scholarship.

In addition to the Rotary scholarship, the Jensens also endow a scholarship in Brett’s name at Cascade High, for which Nguyen was also a candidate.

“We could have given it to her there, too,” Jensen said.

The Rotary’s endowment sits at about $3 million, Valentine said, and a new scholarship named after the group’s past president, Stephen Saunders, will likely be awarded next year. Saunders’ estate gave the Rotary a $511,000 gift after he died in 2014 at the age of 101.

The winners, by school:

Cascade High: Aimee Antuna-Toledo ($2,000 EverTrust Foundation scholarship), Bryson Blackmore ($500 AVID College Essentials Shopping Spree), Margaret Clarke ($1,000 Fred Sjoholm scholarship), Emily Gonzalez ($2,000 Providence General Foundation), Katelyn Hansen ($1,000 AVID Scholarship), Tiara Huffaker ($1,500 Dwayne Lane Auto Center scholarship), Matondo Mbuku Tulu ($500 AVID College Essentials Shopping Spree), Abigail Nava ($500 AVID College Essentials Shopping Spree), Hawi Nemomssa ($1,000 AVID Scholarship), Ngoc-Thao Nguyen ($7,500 Brett Akio Jensen scholarship), Alejandra Pelayo ($1,000 AVID Scholarship), Elizabeth Sather ($17,500 Anthony G. Bozich scholarship), Maya Shresthra ($500 AVID College Essentials Shopping Spree), Audrey Taber ($17,500 Anthony G. Bozich scholarship), Anthony Vargas ($1,000 AVID Scholarship), Leila Vik ($1,000 Boetsch Nash Hall scholarship)

Everett Community College: Kirin Vreeland ($2,500 Everett Clinic scholarship)

Everett High: Dominic Barashkoff ($1,000 Moss Adams scholarship), Cameron Borg ($2,000 EverTrust Foundation scholarship), Bailey Forman-Haynes ($500 AVID College Essentials Shopping Spree), Kayla Heman ($1,500 Evelyn Hoffman scholarship), Cooper James ($3,000 Pat Miller scholarship), Chelsey Johnson ($1,000 AVID Scholarship), MacKenzie Kermoade ($2,500 Puget Sound Kidney Centers scholarship), Tiffany Little ($500 AVID College Essentials Shopping Spree), Chris Lovgreen ($2,500 AVID Scholarship), Viridiana Maciel ($2,500 AVID Scholarship), Elizabeth Mai ($17,500 Anthony G. Bozich scholarship), Mirka Mandich ($17,500 Anthony G. Bozich scholarship), Kyra Mohn ($4,500 Hol Mabley/ Kay Lyons/Gamut 360 scholarship), Sy Luc Nguyen ($500 AVID College Essentials Shopping Spree), Konnor Simons ($500 AVID College Essentials Shopping Spree), Konrad Sorenson ($1,000 AVID Scholarship), Logan Wahl ($14,000 Loren Baker scholarship), Sadie Wood ($1,000 Adelaide Dykstra scholarship)

Kamiak High: Allison Tran Vu ($1,000 Bernie Webber scholarship)

Sequoia High: Rafael Alvarez ($500 AVID College Essentials Shopping Spree), Rafael Arroyo ($1,500 Rubatino Refuse scholarship), Taylor Elliott ($500 AVID College Essentials Shopping Spree and $1,000 AVID Scholarship), Joseph Jackson ($1,000 AVID Scholarship), Riley McGannon ($1,000 AVID Scholarship), Soledad Medina ($5,000 AVID Scholarship), Nicole O’Donnell ($5,000 AVID Scholarship), Olivia Wagonblast ($1,000 AVID Scholarship)

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; cwinters@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.

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