As of Tuesday, January 7, 2014
More than 120 college students from Yakima County have for the past two years been recipients of Mary Monroe Davis scholarships. Four of those students on Wednesday morning of this week expressed their gratitude for the financial assistance at Sunnyside's Daybreak Rotary Club meeting. Berenice Aballi of Sunnyside said she is attending Washington State University to earn a degree in medicine. She said the scholarship will allow her an opportunity to travel abroad. "Without it, I wouldn't be able to do something I have always wanted to do," said Aballi. She said she hopes to return to the Yakima Valley once she earns her degree. "I have seen the need for medical professionals," said Aballi. Matthew DeGroot, a student at Dordt College in Iowa, is pursuing a degree in civil engineering and said the scholarship will have saved him $30,000 in tuition fees once he completes his degree. "I am an intern with SVID (Sunnyside Valley Irrigation District)," DeGroot said of putting what he is learning in college to use. "I hope to return each summer to work with SVID as an intern," said the Sunnyside Christian High School graduate. DeGroot, too, aspires to return to the Yakima Valley once he completes his college education. Also speaking to the Rotarians to state how the Mary Monroe Davis Scholarship is helping them achieve their dreams were Sunnyside's Chelsea Durfey and Grandview's Sadie Wyatt. Durfey said the scholarship is helping her take business classes at Heritage University so that she can help run her family business, Natural Selection Farms. Although she has a degree in geology, Durfey found she missed Sunnyside and returned home to work with her family. "In some ways, because it's (the Mary Monroe Davis Scholarship) just for Yakima County residents, it's like a fertilizer...growing leaders," said Durfey. Wyatt is attending Eastern Washington University and hasn't yet decided her major. However, she said the scholarship is helping her earn the education she believes she needs to be more successful in life. "I just want to say thank you," she said. Daybreak Rotarian Libby Werkhoven said the scholarships are awarded based on several criteria. Students must be U.S. citizens, reside in Yakima County for at least two years, maintain at least a 2.75 grade point average or obtain a GED, and they must enroll as a full-time student to a two or four-year college. More than $20 million was left in a trust when Mary Monroe "Mollie" Davis died. She chose Rotary International to administer the funds. Werkhoven said there are 30 Rotarians from throughout Yakima County who choose recipients of the scholarships awarded. "This is rather unique," she said.