| Rocky Top Reward — Westview High School’s 2010 valedictorian Marianela D’Aprile was honored as the 13th Peyton Manning Scholarship award winner during a presentation Monday in Knoxville. On hand were (from left) Jeff Gerkin, UT Director of |
Financial Aid; recipient Marianela D’Aprile and scholarship founder and former University of Tennessee football standout Peyton Manning. Photo by Elizabeth Olivier, UT Athletics
University of Tennessee and NFL standout Peyton Manning has been on a first-name basis with several Westview High School graduates thanks to his successful time on the gridiron in Knoxville.
Now, along with the likes of former Vol and WHS Charger football standouts Chad Clifton, Will Ofenheusle and Justin Harrell, Manning knows another Westview leader — Marianela D’Aprile.
D’Aprile, the valedictorian for the 2010 Westview graduating class last month, was honored as the 2010 recipient of the Peyton Manning Scholarship during a presentation on Monday on the University of Tennessee campus in Knoxville.
“Marianela now gives us a total of 13 Manning Scholarship recipients since it was first awarded back in 1998. She clearly upholds the outstanding academic standards that this scholarship has come to embody, and she is an accomplished student-athlete as well,” Manning was quoted in a UT press release. “I’m certainly proud to add Marianela to what has become an elite group of deserving scholarship recipients.”
“Of course, when I heard I had won, I was really, really excited and surprised,” D’Aprile said in a phone interview with The Press on Tuesday afternoon. “In the Honors Program, there are so many students who could have been chosen. It’s a big honor.”
Since 1998, the Peyton Manning Scholarship has been awarded to a first-year student participating in UT’s Honors Program on the basis of academic achievement, leadership and community service. It covers the costs of tuition, room and board and is named in honor of the former Vol quarterback who ended his prestigious collegiate career as a 1997 All-America selection.
Even though she was excited, the outstanding student had to keep mum about the chance to meet the Indianapolis Colts QB.
“I found out about three weeks ago. I received a phone call from someone in Financial Aid. They said I’d won and they would send me more information,” D’Aprile noted.
When the Martin resident received more pertinent details from UT, it included a request for silence.
“They sent an e-mail and said please don’t tell anyone because they didn’t want half of Tennessee to show up,” D’Aprile laughed.
The WHS valedictorian ended her vacation in California early to attend the award ceremony on Monday at the Thornton Athletics Student Life Center. Manning and UT Director of Financial Aid Jeff Gerkin joined D’Aprile and her parents Celina and Marcelo along with his brother Franco and sister Camila during the presentation.
“We were supposed to meet (Manning) at 2 (p.m.), but he got there a little early. We talked to him for about 15 to 20 minutes. He was very gracious,” D’Aprile said of meeting the four-time NFL MVP, who took time to pose for photos with the incoming UT freshman.
Manning won the league’s top individual honor at the end of last season to go along with his MVP wins in 2003, 2004 and 2008. No other player has won the award four times.
D’Aprile, a member of the Westview Lady Charger soccer team, didn’t spend their time together talking about the ongoing World Cup international soccer tournament. Instead she listened to his advice on making career and life choices.
“He talked about picking Tennessee over Ole Miss and how people reacted. His parents told him he was old enough to make his own decisions. He said attending Tennessee was a great experience, and it was still great going back now,” the recent Westview grad recalled. Manning worked out with current UT football players after the award presentation.
“With him, he had such a big choice to make. It made me see that everyone has their own way to make decisions and whatever you pick will be best for you, no matter what,” she added.
When asked how she felt representing Westview and Martin on a bigger stage, D’Aprile saw it as an opportunity to let people know her hometown may be small but big things can come from there.
“I think it’s an extra great add-on. Maybe Westview will get more recognition now. People will see that, even though it’s a small town, you will still get a good education there,” she said. “And other students at Westview will see this and say, ‘Oh, I can do this too.’ It shows that being from a small town doesn’t mean I can’t do big things with my life.”
D’Aprile, who finished her high school academic career with a 4.00 GPA, is the ninth in-state recipient of the prestigious scholarship and the first from Martin.
The incoming freshman was busy at WHS. Her activities included French Club President, Mu Alpha Theta Mathematical Honor Society, Beta Club Treasurer, National Honor Society, Science Bowl Team and Tennessee Math Teachers Association Math Competition Team.
She was also a National Hispanic Scholar, a National Merit Finalist and Scholarship Recipient, received the American Chemical Society Award and was Honorable Mention in the Being, an American Essay Contest.
The Manning Scholarship isn’t the only honor D’Aprile earned. She is one of only 15 incoming Chancellor’s Honor students picked to participate in the Haslam Scholars Program. The Haslam Scholars will be enmeshed in an in-depth enrichment program in which elite students learn from and with one another in a series of integrated, interdisciplinary seminars and extracurricular experiences, including study abroad.