Inspired By John Newlin
In six years, the Wilmington Rotary Club will celebrate a second 100-year anniversary—the establishment of our Scholarship Program. The program began in 1924, instituted originally to provide educational loans to deserving college-bound high school seniors. Since then the program has become one offering scholarships (in 1975), and has expanded from having an extremely limited principal to one of over $1,100,000 today, thanks to the generous contributions of our membership. We award approximately $52,000 annually, presently in the form of three four-year scholarships of $3,500, meaning that each year we are helping as many as 12 deserving students fund their college tuition expenses.
I have served on the Scholarship Committee ever since I joined the club in 2009, and each year I find myself rejuvenated and re-inspired with a sense of hope and optimism for the future of our country. A highlight for me is participating in our finalist interviews which take place in late May. On two consecutive evenings we interview eight outstanding young men and women at the Ronald McDonald House to determine which of them is most deserving of our support, and making that decision is excruciating difficult since all are terrific. All have at least some financial need; all have either held jobs while completing high school or have already made significant contributions to their community, or both; and all are highly motivated students; and some, like Miracle Olatunji who made an impressive presentation at a Rotary luncheon in September, have already developed plans for what they want to do after college. Each would make a fine Rotarian in the future!
One of the most gratifying aspects of serving on this committee is knowing the students we support are highly successful in college. In fact, most of our scholarship recipients go on to earn honors marks and continue to support non-profit causes throughout their college careers. As with our dollars that support other club initiatives like the Rotary Foundation and Polio Plus, the return on our contributions is exceptionally high.
If you haven’t yet served on the Scholarship Committee, or if you’re a little bit jaded about the status of young people today, I encourage you to join next year.