The Lake Highlands Exchange Club presented scholarships totaling $153,000 to 46 graduating seniors Friday. The grants will help students and their families pay hefty college tuition bills and take pride knowing the Exchange Club – and the community – recognizes their dedication and achievement.
Ted Steinke retired last year as ECLH scholarship chairman, but said he’s seen many changes over 22 years collecting student applications and conducting interviews.
“The biggest game changer has been the AVID program,” Steinke said. “The kids come in dressed to the nines and they look you in the eye. They thank you and shake your hand. After the interview, I always ask if students have questions. AVID kids ask how I got involved in Exchange Club, how I chose the college I attended and if I have advice for them. They are amazing.”
Paul Elkjer, Exchange Club’s new scholarship chairman, was also impressed with the students he met.
“Each student we honor today has excelled academically and still has found time for substantial extracurricular activities, community service or even work. In many instances, they’ve done this while overcoming obstacles in their live,” Elkjer said. “Our world is going to be just fine with these students leading the way.”
Eric Luck and his wife, Cheri, presented 12 Luck Family Scholarships after interviewing seniors on the LHHS campus. He shared the story of Ana Acosta, who arrived in America at age 3 and will be the first in her family to attempt college. Ana works jobs at Domino’s Pizza and Hopdoddy’s Burger Bar and hopes to become a bilingual teacher to inspire her younger sister. Her story was moving – but it resembled many others.
“All of the students Cheri and I got to meet over the course of this process are curious, strong, decent and thinking people,” Luck said. “All of them deserve awards. They had an overall view of the big picture that is substantially different from when we started these scholarships a few years ago, so welcome to the future, despite what you may hear. We would be proud to be their neighbors in the future.”
Perhaps the toughest – and most uplifting – moment of the morning came when David and Suzanne Silva rose to present five Austin Silva Memorial Scholarships. Austin was their son who died unexpectedly between his junior and senior years in 2017 after his routine wisdom tooth extraction developed complications.
“Many of the kids we interviewed were with us in the hospital waiting room,” David said. “They are our family.”
“Our job is not to raise good students or good athletes – our job is to raise good people,” said Exchange Club President Chris Poteet in closing. “These youth inspire me.”
Exchange Club of Lake Highlands Scholarship recipients were Johanna Patricio Bueno (Texas Women’s University), Allison Cannatti (Vanderbilt), Elizabeth Chandler (University of Texas), Rebeca Contreras (UT), Natalie Costas (Indiana University), Anna Hurt (Notre Dame), Sophia Miller (Brown University), Gabe Olivo (UT), Barbara Raygoza (Texas State University), Jake Stevens (University of Iowa), Swamy Trejo (Southwestern University), Benjamin Waggoner (Baylor University), Daisha Watkins (University of North Texas) and J.P. Weale (University of Arkansas).
Luck Family Foundation Scholarships were awarded to Ana Acosta (Texas A&M San Antonio), Jackson Ankeny (Blinn College at Texas A&M), Johanna Patricio Bueno (TWU), Camille Dries (Texas A&M), Unyime Edet (Richland College), Natalia Ibarra (Texas State), Lily Jenkins (Texas Tech), Bosco Nkunsurwanda (UT Arlington), Dino Pucci (Texas A&M), Barbara Raygoza (Texas State), Swamy Trejo (Southwestern) and Benjamin Waggoner (Baylor).
The Jason Oglesby Memorial Scholarship was given to Diego Lara Garcia (UT Arlington).
The Melinda Lee Memorial Scholarship went to Lydia Biles (Texas Tech).
The Jeff Kane Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Ashley Kaufmann (Texas A&M).
Bob Potts Family Working Scholarships went to Ana Acosta (Texas A&M San Antonio), Delaney Marsh (Richland), Bosco Nkunzurwanda (UT Arlington), Edith Nwosu (Texas State), Esperanza Orozco (UT San Antonio) and Nathalia Patricio (UT Dallas).
Data Jo Potts Memorial Scholarships went to Jacqueline Bernal (UT), Blake Brown (Villanova), Piper Miars (Texas A&M), Sydney Moise (University of Richmond), Kate Moseley (TCU) and Pamela Patterson (Blinn).
James Brandon Burris Memorial Scholarships were awarded to Macie Hickman (University of Arkansas), Esperanza Orozco (UT San Antonio), Samantha Silva (Texas A&M) and Allison Winkler (Texas A&M).
Austin Silva Memorial Scholarships were given to Amour Alier (Arkansas), Nicole Clifford (St. Edward’s), Camille Dries (Texas A&M), Will Haskins (Texas A&M) and Elissa Massey (Arkansas).
Exchange Club Board of Directors Scholarships went to Sabahat Ahmed (UT Dallas) and Amour Alier (Arkansas).