Scholarship funds young women’s educational dreams
Sydney Reese tore open the envelope, quickly scanning the contents on the creamy, cotton-fiber paper. Her eyes caught the words “congratulations” and “recipient,” and she found herself starting to relax. Sydney began the letter again, reading this time with much more care. Slowly, the news sank in: Out of several dozen applicants from Georgetown High School, Sydney had been chosen as the 2013 recipient of the Jesse Daniel Ames Scholarship, offered by the Georgetown branch of the American Association of University Women.
“Honestly, I cried when I learned that I received the award,” says Sydney, who is a freshman at Texas A&M University majoring in biomedical engineering. “I knew the only way for me to attend college would be through working as much as I could and through taking out loans. The AAUW award was the first scholarship I received, and the amount of relief and gratitude I felt is unexplainable. It was the feeling of knowing someone truly believed in me and in my education. This scholarship is so much more than money; it’s knowing that someone back home is rooting for my success and encouraging my dreams.”
Abby Hanna, last year’s recipient of the Jesse Daniel Ames Scholarship and a special education major at the University of Texas, Austin, agrees. “I felt so proud and accomplished because such a prestigious organization had recognized my efforts and believed that I was deserving of the award,” she explains. “I felt honored knowing that AAUW believed in the goals I had set for myself at the University of Texas. My family has always taught me that education is key, and I felt so honored to be recognized by an organization that shares my values. I could not succeed in school without the support of AAUW.”
During their years at Georgetown High School, Sydney and Abby both distinguished themselves through scholastic achievements and civic contributions, qualities that stood out to the AAUW scholarship committee. “Both of these young women did beautifully on their applications,” says Barbara McGrail, a longtime AAUW member who serves on the scholarship committee. “We consider financial need and work ethic, as well as class standing and overall grade point average. We look at [activities] outside of school and professional goals, trying to consider the overall picture. All of the students who apply are outstanding candidates—it’s very difficult to narrow it down and to choose one.”
The Jesse Daniel Ames Scholarship, named after the founder of the Georgetown branch of AAUW, serves a vital purpose for the organization. Dianne Melton, president of the Georgetown branch, explains, “The scholarship . . . promotes our mission of seeking equality for women and girls through education [and] shows support . . . to young women who are beginning a journey to gain educational equality.” Barbara agrees. “Our whole goal at AAUW is to help all women aspire to higher standards. This scholarship gives a boost to a young woman who wants to continue on with her education.”
American Association of University Women
Georgetown, Texas, Branch