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Help for higher education

Student workers in dining services awarded collegiate scholarships

Created date

August 20th, 2013

Six students from the Dallas area will begin their collegiate careers this month with a little extra funding, thanks to the scholarship program at Highland Springs. Mekia Curry, Adrienne Landry, Morgan Landry, David Nguyen, Colton Payne, and Diana Rodriguez are recent high school graduates employed in the dining services department at the North Dallas Erickson Living community. The six student workers were each awarded $500 per semester, up to a total award of $4,000, paid directly to their chosen accredited higher education program. Each year, the scholarship committee accepts applications from student workers in our dining services department, says Helen Adele Johnson, a Highland Springs resident and chair of the scholarship committee. This year, we were pleased to recognize these six outstanding young people at an awards luncheon in June.

Investing in the future

To be eligible for a scholarship, a student must work at Highland Springs for at least 1,000 hours over a two-year period. Additionally, the student must maintain a 2.5 grade point average and be in good standing with his or her supervisor. We hand out applications in April to interested students who have completed their 1,000 hours, says Helen Adele, a retired fourth grade teacher. In many cases, working at Highland Springs has been their first job. As residents, we have watched these young people grow and mature over the course of their high school years. We want to invest in their future. Scholarships are resident-funded during an annual fundraising drive. This year s fundraising efforts kicked off with a golf tournament on May 1 at Sherrill Park Golf Course, followed by a week-long campaign during which committee members accepted donations from residents. In 2013, we raised over $38,000 for the scholarship fund, says Helen Adele, who has served on the scholarship committee since its inception in 2008. The response from residents was tremendous. It just goes to show the relationships that develop between the residents and the student workers. Once the scholarship committee receives an application, including a personal essay and letters of recommendation, the six residents and three employees on the committee schedule an interview with the student. Becoming a Highland Springs scholarship recipient requires dedication to Erickson Living values, hard work, good scholarship, and a determination to pursue higher education, says Lil Smith, pastoral ministries coordinator and one of the staff members on the scholarship committee.

Training ground

Colton Payne started working at Highland Springs in August 2010. He is a recent graduate of Naaman Forest High School and plans to study political science at the University of Texas at Dallas. I really appreciate the scholarship from the residents, says Payne. I ve always been a bit shy, but working at Highland Springs taught me the value of friendliness and communication. David Nguyen, who followed in his sister Michelle s footsteps as an Erickson Living employee, also graduated from Naaman Forest High School and plans to attend Richland College before transferring to the University of Texas at Arlington to study mechanical engineering. Highland Springs has been a great training ground for future employment, says Nguyen, who has worked at the North Dallas community for three-and-a-half years. The residents have so much wisdom to share.