[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                       August 8, 2008
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Commissary recognizes, honors scholarship recipients

Seven students in the Fort McCoy community were among 600 military children worldwide who each have earned a $1,500 scholarship from the Scholarships for Military Children Program. That was the most students earning scholarships in the Fort McCoy Commissary area since the program began in 2001.

According to Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) officials, the program has awarded a total of more than $6.4 million dollars in scholarships to more than 4,000 of the best and brightest children of military families in the past seven years. The program is funded by the public at large and manufacturers, distributors and brokers that provide products and service to commissaries.

Photo: Steve Brown (left) and Fort McCoy Garrison Commander Col. David E. Chesser (right) recognize Commissary Scholarship recipients (left to right) Benjamin R. Skifton, Mallory A. Heckman, Chelsea E. Smith, Angeline B. Klemm and Kyle R. Leistikow. Scholarship winners Michael Schultz and Lydia Soderlund are not pictured. (Photo by Val Hyde)
Steve Brown (left) and Fort McCoy Garrison Commander Col. David E. Chesser (right) recognize Commissary Scholarship recipients (left to right) Benjamin R. Skifton, Mallory A. Heckman, Chelsea E. Smith, Angeline B. Klemm and Kyle R. Leistikow. Scholarship winners Michael Schultz and Lydia Soderlund are not pictured. (Photo by Val Hyde)

Steve Brown, the Fort McCoy Commissary store manager, emceed a July 21 event at the Fort McCoy Commissary to honor the Commissary’s scholarship recipients. Fort McCoy community students have been well represented in the program with five students being honored for the past two years, as well, he said.

"The Scholarships for Military Children program is one of many programs initiated by the Defense Commissary to involve commissaries even more deeply in the fabric of the military community," Brown said. "Scholarships for Military Children, which is funded by the vendors and manufactures who sell groceries to you every day, serves to make the premier military benefit even more valuable by offering military children the chance to earn a $1,500 scholarship."

Five of the seven 2008 recipients were able to attend the event.

The students were invited to speak before the audience at the ceremony, which included Garrison Commander Col. David E. Chesser and Garrison Command Sergeant Major Command Sgt. Maj. M. Kevin Dubois honoring them.

Many of the students also used the opportunity to read from the essays they were required to compose and submit as part of the application process.

As is the case of the scholarship recipients across the country, the students honored at the Fort McCoy Commissary ceremony have a wide variety of academic interests.

Mallory A. Heckman, a junior at Ripon (Wis.) College, is majoring in politics and government with career aspirations of becoming a lawyer. She is the daughter of Fred and Kathleen LeSavage of Tomah, Wis.

Angeline B. Klemm, who recently graduated from Rib Lake (Wis.) High School, will be a freshman at the University of Wisconsin (UW)-La Crosse and plans to major in athletic training. She is the daughter of Shane and Marlene Klemm of Westboro, Wis.

Kyle R. Leistikow, who recently graduated from Janesville (Wis.) Craig High School, will attend UW-Madison and plans to major in medical microbiology. He is the son of Rick and Karla Leistikow of Janesville.

Benjamin R. Skifton, who recently graduated from Wisconsin Rapids (Wis.) Assumption High School, will attend St. Norbert’s College in De Pere, Wis., where he will major in education. He is the son of Rick and Pam Skifton of Nekoosa, Wis.

Chelsea E. Smith will be a junior at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., majoring in nursing, with career aspirations of being a nurse anesthetist. She is the daughter of Stanley and Andrea Smith of Eagan, Minn.

Two scholarship recipients, Michael Schultz of New Berlin, Wis., and Lydia Soderlund of Wausau, Wis., were unable to attend. Both are two-time scholarship recipients who took advantage of the program being open to students in each school year.

Fisher House Foundation underwrites administration of the program through Scholarship Managers. Neither Fisher House nor DeCA are involved in the decision process. Fort McCoy’s scholarship sponsor, Mike Zullo of Webco, represented the Kimberly Clark Corporation.

The scholarship program is a way to help repay military families, especially children, for the sacrifices they make to serve the county, DeCA Director and Chief Executive Officer Philip E. Sakowitz Jr., stated in a news release.

"Military children must learn to adapt with each permanent change of station (move), tackling the challenges of a new curriculum with each school they attend," Sakowitz said.

In fact, according to Military Child Education Coalition research, "Military children generally move from six to nine times during their ‘K-12’ school years. Many make multiple moves during high school years alone, some even during their senior year. Academic standards, courses, access to programs, promotion and graduation requirements, programs for children with special needs, and transfer and acceptance of records vary greatly from state to state and even from school to school. These frustrations, in addition to giving up friends and associates with whom a rapport has been established, cause anxiety. Separation from a deployed parent (or parents) raises an additional issue."

Yet despite these hardships, the well-rounded quality of the scholarship applicants suggests that military children flourish academically.

"The average GPA (Grade Point Average) of the applicants is 3.8 to 3.9," said Bernard Coté, president of Scholarship Managers, a professional firm that screens and awards scholarships for more than 400 programs. "This is the finest field of applicants among the scholarship programs that we manage. The students are excellent, the grades are high, but in addition to that, their participation in school and community activities is overwhelming."

The 2009 Scholarships for Military Children season kicks off Nov. 1, 2008. For more information about the program, check out DeCA’s Web site at http://www.commissaries.com or the Military Scholar Web site at http://www.militaryscholar.org.

(Information from this story also is from the Defense Commissary Agency.)

 

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