It’ll be here before we know it – graduation time. And there’s no doubt many Lake Highlands seniors are talking about where they will go to college in the fall. But for a lot of students (and their parents), what’s on their minds isn’t where they’ll go, but how they’ll pay for it.
That’s where the Lake Highlands Women’s League comes in.
Each year since 1972, the Lake Highlands Women’s League has given out scholarships to neighborhood seniors in need of financial help to attend college. To date, the non-profit organization has doled out more than $850,000 to more than 260 students.
So where does the money come from? The league’s annual fundraiser, the Holiday in the Highlands home tour. In 2003, the group raised $92,000 and gave out 23 scholarships. In 2004, the home tour raised over $100,000 – the largest sum to date, and the newest scholarship recipients will be announced this month.
While we’re waiting for the next batch of beneficiaries to be chosen, we thought we’d catch up with some past scholarship recipients and see what they’ve been up to since they left Lake Highlands and how the Women’s League helped make a difference in their lives.
2005 LAKE HIGHLANDS WOMEN’S LEAGUE SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS:
ILIANA ARAGON CHRIS JACOBIE KATE RUSH SHEEHY
CARY DANIELS MEGAN KULOVITZ CRAIG SMITHAM
JESSE FORNEAR LISA LAWRENCE DANIEL SPENCE
TONY GASTON BRODY LYONS BRIAN THURMAN
PAIGE GILLUM RUTH NEGASH NIKKI TRIZZA
AMY GRIFFIN JENNY (THAO) NGUYEN DEBORAH UDEOGU
GABRIELLE HEARON MIA OVCINA SELENA XIE
KELSEY HEATH BRAD RATLIFF COLLIN ZREET
DAVID HOYTE MYLEKA REDDIC
Class of 2000
Ingrid Bradley-Wilson knew she wanted to go into medicine at an early stage when her grandmother died of colon cancer.
“She lived in a small town in Texas, where the technology wasn’t that good. If she had been diagnosed earlier, she would have had a fighting chance,” Bradley-Wilson says. “By the time she got to Dallas, it was too late. I realized then that we need better primary care physicians in rural areas.”
When she graduated almost five years ago, the Women’s League scholarship helped her take the first step toward realizing her dream. She used the scholarship money to defray costs of her first semester at New Orleans’ Xavier University.
Last spring, Ingrid Bradley-Wilson graduated from Xavier with a double major in pre-med and Spanish. She now lives in Dallas and works at Children’s Medical Center as a PRN senior financial counselor, meaning she helps patients determine if they qualify for governmental financial aid, such as Medicaid, and helps them with the paperwork involved. She took the MCAT in April and will apply to medical school in June.
Wilson says she would like to work in an inner-city hospital and focus on awareness in smaller communities, both with medical education and with inspiration for those who may not have as much financially.
“I’d like to use myself as an example,” says Bradley-Wilson, who hopes to eventually establish a scholarship in her family’s name to help kids pay for college. “My parents didn’t have a lot of money to send me to college, but it’s important to let the younger generation know you can go to college – whether you used scholarships or even if you have to go to a two-year community college as a stepping-stone. There are options.”
Class of 1992
What is a nightmare for other students was the beginning of a career for Reggie Tennyson.
“I’ve always enjoyed chemistry,” says Tennyson, explaining that ever since he was exposed to the science his senior year at LHHS, he has been passionate about it. “I like the challenge of it.”
And when he received his scholarship more than 10 years ago, he knew he’d use the money toward a chemistry career. Tennyson graduated from Texas A&M in 1997 with a chemistry degree. He then spent a year working as an analytical chemist for various companies in Houston before returning to A&M for his masters in synthetic organic chemistry.
Today, Tennyson is putting his intellect to good use saving lives. After completing his masters in 2001, he went to work for a Encysive Pharmaceuticals in Houston. His latest project with the company involves researching new compounds for a drug to treat heart disease.
Tennyson, who lives in Houston with wife Kemi, whom he met at A&M, and 3-year-old son Remi, plans to stick with Encysive for a while.
“I’m trying to prove myself here,” he says. But he says the scholarship lit an academic fire in him.
“I may go back to school,” he says. “I’m not sure yet.”
These Lake Highlands alums are also siblings, and all received the Lake Highlands Women’s League scholarship. According to all three, Baylor University was the only school they considered. Their grandfather taught at the school for 40 years – the oldest of the three says, “I had green and gold in me since I was five.” Since college, all three have gone on to different careers.
FLYING THE FRIENDLY SKIES
Class of 1992
Dwyer graduated from Baylor University in 1996 with a degree in international business and entrepreneurship. But after interviewing with financial institutions and banks, he realized the 9-to-5 lifestyle didn’t suit him. Then a friend in the aviation science program at Baylor told him there was a demand for commercial pilots and pointed him toward a two-year flight program at Texas Tech. Dwyer jumped at the opportunity. He graduated from the program with his commercial pilot’s license and now works for Mesa Airlines, which contracts out to US Air, United and America West. Based out of Charlotte, N.C., Dwyer flies a regional 50-passenger jet. His route is along the Eastern seaboard – from Montreal to Tallahassee – “and everywhere in between,” he says.
Meredith Dwyer Lewis
Class of 1993
Lewis graduated from Baylor in 1998 with an art history degree and moved to Cape Charles, Va. There, she managed her uncle’s retail shop – Cape Charles Trading Company – and married her husband, Bryan. She eventually bought the store from her uncle, but after several years in the retail business, decided it was time for a change. So she took a job at New Ravenna, a nationwide wholesaler of custom mosaic work, and hopes to become a sales associate there in the near future.
Lewis also has become involved in several non-profit organizations in her community. She works for World Healing Institute, which helps children with facial deformities, and recently spearheaded an effort in Cape Charles to pass an ordiance regulating the tethering of animals. She also is on the board of supervisors for Shore Corps, an organization is geared toward helping high school kids become involved in community service.
“It is weird being the older one now who is working with these kids,” she says. “I love it. It is a chance to be a role model for somebody else. Just like the ones I had growing up.”
A STATELY SALESMAN
Class of 1996
Dwyer No. 3 graduated Baylor in 2000 with a degree in environmental studies and earth science, but he took a job after he graduated – with the company his mom was working for at the time – introducing him to the sales industry. He now works for a Dallas company called Shoppas Material Handling, selling Toyota industrial equipment. Dwyer, unlike his siblings, plans to stay put in Dallas and become involved more with the community.
“I definitely want to give back to the city I grew up in. I feel like that’s the right thing to do.”
He also has some words for those women who, long ago, made sure he went to college.
“Financial help was a necessity for me,” he says. “I am very grateful for the scholarship from [the Lake Highlands Women’s League].
“It made a difference in my life because it enabled me to have the opportunity to go to Baylor and to college.”