The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund awarded $175,000 in scholarships to 29 J.P. McCaskey High School graduating seniors last month.
The scholarships are awarded annually to students who have been accepted to accredited higher education programs, have demonstrated financial need and “reflect Dr. King’s ideals of commitment to school, community, family and faith, according to the fund’s website.
Recipients are selected by the group’s board of directors. Co-chairs are Rebecca Grube and June Mouzon-Byers. Lancaster Mayor Danene Sorace is an honorary chair of the board.
Nicholas Veronis, a member of the board, is a partner at Lancaster law firm Hagelgans & Veronis. He says he and his law firm partner James Hagelgans have donated to the fund for approximately 10 years.
“We feel that through the opportunity of a higher education, we can best ensure deserving scholars of any race or ethnic group can have a better chance of advancing in life,” Veronis said in an email. “For many of these students, they represent the first of their families to have the opportunity of a higher education.”
Veronis is a member of McCaskey’s Class of 1978. Hagelgans, also an alumnus, graduated in 1975.
“It is especially satisfying as alumni of McCaskey to support this MLK Fund because we realize that many of society’s social problems can be improved with a quality education,” Veronis wrote.
“A college education opens up a person’s mind as well as offers opportunities which these kids might never have without a college education,” Veronis continued. “It is also our hope that when they graduate, they will then pay it forward by returning to our community and becoming teachers, doctors, journalists, lawyers and leaders who will in turn mentor and support future students.”
Some recipients have even returned to serve on the fund’s board. Karla Verkouw, a current board member, was a 2009 scholarship recipient.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund’s current iteration began when teachers from Lancaster’s Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School took over a scholarship fund previously run by a community committee. Initially, only McCaskey students who attended King Elementary were eligible. Today, any graduating senior at McCaskey is eligible to apply.
The scholarships are funded by a number of community partners. Awards are distributed in various amounts to recipients, including a $20,000 scholarship given in honor of late board member Nelson Polite Sr.
The 2020 Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund recipients are as follows:
— Candace Graupera, Mayerli Taveras, Nayan Sunuwar, Caroline Wisler, Gavin Collier, Linette Hernandez; awarded $5,000 each donated by Hagelgans & Veronis.
— Quyen Hoang; awarded $25,000 donated by the Dietrich Botstiber Foundation.
— Summer Edwards and Leydi Gil; awarded $12,500 each donated by Nicholas and Susan Veronis.
— Tianna Lawrence, awarded a $20,000 MLK Jr. Board Scholarship in honor of Nelson Polite Sr.
— Alexis Link and Livia Seifert; awarded $5,000 each, donated by John Enoch in memory of his wife, Christine, to be given to Penn State University-bound scholars.
— Aliyah Newcomer; awarded $6,000 donated by Joan Pollock, board member and former nurse in the school district, in memory of nurse practitioners in the school district, Shelby Hackman, Zelma Martin, and Lois Weidman, and by David Walborn in memory of his mother, Evelyn Loretta Walborn.
— Jazlyne Flores and Cristina Burton; each awarded $5,000 donated by Edward and Kathy Shoenberger.
— Serenity Milner, awarded $5,000 donated by Sharon A. Hargrave.
— Ariana Tellado, awarded $5,000 donated by Betty Beck in honor of her parents, Robert and Betty Kreider.
— Areyana Montanez, awarded $5,000 donated by Georgina and Thomas Russo.
— Jack Ziegler, awarded $5,000 donated by Georgina and Thomas Russo.
— Kiana Marti, awarded $5,000 donated as a David Johnson Memorial Scholarship by Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.
— Rachel Graham; awarded the $5,000 Ellen Pike MLK Jr. Board Scholarship.
— Sadeyah Perales, Dejon Manning, Aidan Freeman, Samuel Ossa Rodriguez, Karla Diez Alicea, Juan Colorado Lopez, and Brian McCloud; awarded $2,000 MLK Jr. Board Scholarships.