By GLENDA CAUDLE
Special to The Messenger
When Union City Rotarian the late Hardy Graham donated $1,000 to establish a trust fund in memory of fellow Rotarian Gus B. White in 1982, he could hardly have foreseen that, by 2013, the organization would have invested $4,500,000-plus in higher education for students from Union City, Obion County Central and South Fulton high schools.
For students graduating this year and continuing their college and technical school experience, the $299,000 in academic encouragement stands as a testament to the Rotary Club’s firm commitment to education.
Of the amount recently announced at the annual Union City Rotary Club Scholarship Banquet, $135,000 is earmarked for 115 students just leaving high school. The balance — $164,000 — will be awarded June 7 under the Verhine Scholarship umbrella. These scholarships go to upperclassmen who have graduated from Union City High School and are funded through assets from the Fern Verhine estate that was earmarked for use in the city. The decision was made to allow Rotary Club to handle the disbursement of these funds, thanks to its excellent program and its established interview process.
Students interested in applying for the scholarships complete the initial process online these days — a major change from the early days of the program. For 2014 graduates, the opportunity to have part of their higher education experience funded by hometown support will begin Jan. 1, 2014, and will end April 15. Subsequent scholarships are not guaranteed to any student, but Rotary Club members hope the young men and women they assist will see the hope invested in them and will make it their business to apply for subsequent awards.
In addition to completing a form and submitting family financial information, high school students interested in the scholarships, which are given in honor or memory of those beloved and respected by someone with a connection to the Rotary Club or its education goals, must take part in interviews with a club committee. Rotarians believe this experience is a valuable one for young people, although it may be responsible for considerable nervousness on the part of each class of seniors.
This year’s scholarship committee included Tim Shanks, Bob Regen, Richard Graham, Gary Houston, Barry Keathley, Al Creswell, Kurt Baggett and Kyle Baggett.
Roger Williams, Dave Schlager and Steve Vaughn have also devoted several years to the committee and were recognized at the recent banquet.
A special PowerPoint presentation was put together by Clint Joiner, who also organized the club’s website and placed the applications online.
Kurt Baggett and Kyle Baggett organized the banquet and the youth group from First Baptist Church, where the banquet was held in the family life center, helped with table set up.
Representatives of both the Union City and Obion County school systems were on hand to congratulate the students.
Photos of upcoming graduates from the three high schools who received the good news for their educational futures will be published over the next few weeks in The Messenger.
Published in The Messenger 5.22.13