MACOMB TOWNSHIP — It’s scholarship season in the township, which means that a group of soon-to-be high school graduates and current college students will be receiving a financial boost heading into the next school year.
The Macomb Township Community Foundation (MTCF) announced earlier this month the names of the 10 winners of its 2013 college scholarship program. Each student will receive a $500 donation to be used toward educational expenses — everything from tuition to books to room and board — at a college or university of their choice.
The students selected this year include five-time winner Christopher Hopper from Harvard University; Alex Fauer, Emily Labudde, Amber Lam and Christina Micale from Dakota High School; Ricardo Flores from De La Salle Collegiate High School; Monique Fiscelli from the University of Michigan; Sarah Fortunato from the Utica Academy for International Studies; Emily Meyers from Eisenhower High School; and Dayle Micale from Macomb Community College.
According to Gary Cynowa, MTCF scholarship committee chairperson, the foundation received 51 applications from Macomb Township students between Jan. 11 and Feb. 25. A group of five judges — Gary Fifield, Margaret DeMuynck, Roselie Ruebelman, Douglas Shepherd and Albert Taylor — then spent an entire month reading and evaluating the applications and helping Cynowa choose this year’s winners.
“There’s a lot of need out there, especially with the cost of college education being so expensive these days,” he explained. “Some of these kids are really hurting financially, so even though this scholarship is only $500, it can make the difference between them continuing to go to college or being forced to quit. Financial hardship is not a requirement for this, but it is something that our judges consider when evaluating each application.”
From 6-8 p.m. on May 16, the MTCF will host its annual Scholarship Awards Dinner at the Macomb Township Recreation Center to honor all 10 winners, as well as their parents and school principals, and officially present them with their scholarship checks. Individual tickets for the event are $50 each and include a catered meal with refreshments.
Founded in 2004 by a group of Macomb Township residents and civic, business and neighborhood leaders, the MTCF is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the entire Macomb community. No taxpayer dollars are used to fund its projects. Instead, the MTCF derives financial support for its scholarship program and other charitable endeavors via donations from individuals, businesses and groups, and via numerous fundraisers and special events.
Fifield, who has served as an MTCF scholarship judge for the past few years, said that he and his fellow judges look at several different criteria when evaluating student applications: grade-point average, extracurricular activities, awards and recognitions, work experience, recommendation letters, and more. But for Fifield, the most important category in each application is always the essay that each student writes to make a case for why he or she should receive the scholarship.
“Those essays reveal a lot about their character and personality,” he said. “You can always tell how much time each student actually spent writing their essay — it’s easy to recognize those who are still very immature and those who are mature beyond their years. I always look for something that’s more than just the student bragging about all their great accomplishments and tooting their own horn. I want them to demonstrate a little more humility and a more globally conscious perspective and a real passion for helping others.”
Still, there are enough worthy applications submitted each year that the final point totals always end up being extremely close. As one of the regular judges, Fifield appreciates the opportunity to help out his longtime friend Cynowa with the selection process, as well as the opportunity to give back to the place where he lives.
“I really enjoy doing this because it makes me feel like I’m a part of this community,” he said. “It gives me a sense of connecting to these young people’s lives, even if it’s just in some small way.”
For Cynowa, this is what makes the MTCF’s scholarship program so worthwhile. “We’re a nonprofit, so all of us are involved in this program on a volunteer basis,” he said. “We don’t get anything out of it except for the opportunity to work with some really interesting people and see the smiling faces of all these terrific students and parents.”
For more information on the MTCF, call (586) 468-1919 or visit www.macombtownshipfoundation.com.