Emotional Surprise: Avena’s emotional reaction brought smiles to all when she was announced as the 2016 McElwain Scholarship recipient.
Let me begin by thanking the Kiwanis Cal-Nev-Ha Foundation for awarding me this scholarship. I was extremely shocked and overjoyed that I received such a high honor from a community that I felt truly connected to. While I was in high school, Key Club was always something I looked forward to.
Despite others seeing it as work, an extracurricular meant to fill a space on a resume or application, I viewed it as a hobby. I enjoyed volunteering and interacting with the community; by doing so, I made new connections and learned interesting things about people in this world. I was able to develop my leadership skills and had the opportunity to make a difference outside of school.
While classes were interesting, Key Club was a refreshing activity that I never grew tired of and a place where I could grow as a person and build my character. I’m extremely grateful that my efforts and service in this organization were brought to light through this scholarship, and I will always be reminded of the generosity the Kiwanis Foundation has given me and many other members of this community.
I am currently a second year student studying at the University of California, Berkeley. I am paying for college on my own, but I am thankful that I have financial aid and scholarships to help me get through it. In particular, the McElwain scholarship has provided the greatest amount of support as of yet, and I don’t just mean financially.
During times when I feel discouraged and doubt my ability to succeed, I am reminded of the people who believed in me to make an impact in this world. I remember the Key Club members and community I served, and the people who congratulated me both on and off stage. When I remember all of this, I am able to pick myself back up and continue moving forward toward my goals.
As of now, my college plans are not completely set in stone. The only details I can provide with confidence is that I will be majoring in STEM and that wherever that path takes me, I know it will involve me giving back to this community and our society. That may sound cliche, but I learned through service that helping people is an intrinsic good that never grows old.
The McElwain scholarship has and will continue to influence my decisions on what my future plans will be. It will be there to remind me of my achievements and growth, and will support me through my college years where I will continue to learn, grow, and help others.