Fire Dept. awards scholarships to outgoing high school seniors

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published August 17, 2016

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — What future college student couldn’t use a few extra bucks?

Three local students’ academic achievements recently paid off when they were each given $1,000 scholarships by way of the Clinton Township Fire Department.

Money raised through an annual golf outing sparked an idea among members of the department, according to Lt. Paul Brouwer — who is also president of Clinton Township Fire Fighters Union No. 1381, of the International Association of Fire Fighters. The labor union represents firefighters across the U.S. and Canada.

The union has a charity fire fund, of which money goes to different people in need.

“We figured, how can we give some more of that money away to people who can use it,” Brouwer said.

A scholarship fund was then put in place, which included the following parameters: Only high school seniors in the Clinton Township area were eligible, with schools including Clintondale, Chippewa Valley, L’Anse Creuse and even nearby Fraser; a minimum 3.0 GPA; students earned extra consideration with community service hours on their resumes; and a short-form essay.

This was the department’s first venture into doling out cash to students, and the process started late into the 2015-16 school year. All pertinent information was given to the school’s counselors, with applications delivered around the end of March.

Students had about 45 days to submit their applications.

Lt. Tim Duncan, who is also the CTFD treasurer, said the department hoped to give money to a minimum of five applicants, but because the process started so late only three applications were submitted.

“We got three awesome ones,” Duncan said. “(It was) far more than what we expected, with grade point (average) and everything.”

Aubrey Schihl was one recipient. She was ranked No. 14 in her Chippewa Valley High School graduating class, out of a total of 586 seniors.

She had a 4.009 GPA, was part of National Honor Society and participated in coalition team council — which involves tutoring, helping those with special needs, volunteering at places like soup kitchens, and collecting for the homeless.

Schihl plans to attend Oakland University to become a registered nurse, and possibly a nurse practitioner.

Laura Miller was another recipient. She graduated at the top of the Chippewa Valley class. She possessed a 4.095 GPA, was part of National Honor Society, played softball and donated time to local area hospitals as a Relay For Life organizer. Like Schihl, she was also part of the coalition team council.

Miller plans to study biomedical science at Grand Valley State University, leaning toward a future career in the medical field.

The third and final recipient was Caitlin Durkee, of the International Academy of Macomb. Ranked No. 10 of 118 graduates, Durkee finished with a GPA of 4.261. She was a student leader, involved with Girl Scouts and Key Club. She was also part of Link Crew, which is a transition program that involves older students welcoming freshmen and easing the hardships of their first year of high school. She also played volleyball and softball, through Chippewa Valley.

Durkee plans to attend Saginaw Valley State University, with an emphasis on biology with a long-term goal of becoming a dentist.

The three were honored in July, at fire headquarters on Romeo Plank in Clinton Township. Each student’s accomplishments were announced, while their families, department members and some members of the Clinton Township Board of Trustees were on hand.

Firefighter Ryan McCuen was also a sponsor. Duncan said that McCuen, who is associated with Master Gardener Lawn Care in Macomb Township, gave money toward the scholarships in honor of his father.

“One of the main fundraisers is to seek out people in need, especially sick children, and give money back to those who need it,” Duncan said. “The focus is on Clinton Township residents, and we put money aside from our golf outing.”

Duncan said the Fire Department hopes to get applications out by January of the next school year in hope of a bigger applicant pool.

As for the students, they can use the money in any capacity they feel — be it books, tuition or even a shopping spree.