June 19, 2014 --
“May I have your attention please; may I have your attention please,” was the sound patrons heard over Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany Commissary’s broadcast system, marking the onset of the 2014 Defense Commissary Agency scholarship presentation.
Ernest Beckwith, assistant commissary officer, MCLB Albany, facilitated the ceremony, which announced DeCA’s 2014 scholarship recipient and its sponsor, Sargento Foods, Inc.
“(The scholarship) is eligible to military children with a minimum 3.0 grade point average (and is awarded to children of) active duty, retired, the guard or reserve members,” Beckwith pointed out.
“The Independent Scholarship Management Company determines awards based on the overall applicants, including grades, community involvement and many other factors,” Beckwith added. “Community involvement is what the Albany Commissary is all about.”
Having met all of the prerequisites for eligibility, a $2,000 scholarship was awarded to Philip Long, a Colquitt County High School graduate.
According to Beckwith, Long competed and won the academic award, which is granted through a scholarship program of the Fisher House Foundation in support of the Scholarships for Military Children’s Program.
Long said his father, Army reservist Chief Warrant Officer 2 Paul Long, motivated/instructed him to write the program’s required essay, which landed him the monetary award.
“Actually, I was on the website and was just scrolling through looking for scholarships; I saw there was a scholarship out there – and it’s always nice to have more money,” the recipient admitted. “I just chanced up on it and (when) my dad checked it out, he said, ‘write this essay,’ and I said ‘okay, I will,’ (and I started) writing.’”
He caught the attention of the review board based on his writing on the essay topics: “Aside from service members deploying, what do you consider the greatest challenge military families face? Please discuss why you think this is a critical issue. Given authority, what policy changes would you make to resolve the problem?”
Excerpts from Long’s essay suggested the greatest impact to children of military families, who are deployed in the middle of a school year, is the risk to their academic achievement as well as emotional and social success.
“Children of military families (may) not only exhibit academic problems, but also emotional and behavioral problems due to constant relocation,” he asserted. “I believe many children can easily become stressed after moving around so much during their school careers.
“In some cases, young military children, (who) miss fundamental lessons in early years, can show signs of low self-esteem,” Long continued. “They may not be considered as smart as their peers, not because of their academic incapacities, but because they miss basic principles needed for higher-level learning objectives. Additionally, older children can have a difficult time feeling socially accepted by peers because of pre-existing friendships.”
In Long’s opinion, some modifications to the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children’s Policy, as it relates to moving military families in the middle of the school year, could address some of his concerns by minimizing the detrimental impact and improving the academic success of military students.
Long, who is currently attending Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Georgia, majoring in business management, will be entering his sophomore year in the fall.
He said he is grateful to have been awarded the scholarship, discussed the impact winning has had on him and shared his feelings about the ceremony, which was held in his honor.
“This is a big celebration for me and I just wrote an essay,” Long said. “I am really honored and I’m really proud to have received this because it’s very prestigious. I mean, I’ve got this big cake, pens and everything.”
Long’s father commented on the value he felt his son gained by applying for the scholarship.
“Just going through the (entire) process of applying for scholarships taught him valuable insight,” the recipient’s father said. “It showed that the hard work (he) put in had paid off. I think (it) worked out well – that our relationship (is such that we were) able to work together to pull this off.”
Lt. Col. Daniel Bates, executive officer, MCLB Albany, and Amanda Edwards, Dunham and Smith Agencies, Prince George, Virginia, presented the award to Long.
According to DeCA, Fort Lee, Virginia, commissaries nationwide participate in the program by accepting applications of eligible children and by submitting their packages to Scholarship Managers, a national, nonprofit, scholarship management services organization. Stores celebrate the achievements of their local selections with a ceremony in the Commissary.
Applicants are selected based on their grade-point averages, extracurricular activities, volunteer efforts and essays on a required topic.
For more information on eligibility criteria and the process for applying for DeCA’s 2015 scholarship, visit: www.militaryscholar.org/.