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Readiness Enabler for Operational Forces  •
Commissary scholarships program makes straight A's

By Bonnie J. Powell, Defense Commissary Agency | | May 31, 2002

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The Defense Commissary Agency's Scholarships for Military Children program is scoring a 4.0 in its sophomore year with 520 military children having earned $1,500 scholarships to help them "combat" the higher cost of education in the fall of 2002.

"I'm delighted to announce that the number of scholarships going to outstanding students in 2002 exceeds last year's total by 30 percent," said DeCA director, Air Force Maj. Gen. Robert J. Courter Jr. "We couldn't be happier with the positive response to the program, the growth of the program, and the caliber of applicants and recipients." More than 5,100 students applied in 2002.

"The community was really enthusiastic about the scholarship program," said MCLB Albany Commissary Store Director Ann-Marie Wyatt.  MCLB Albany Commissary scholarship recipient is Monique McKenzie is of Albany. She is the daughter of retired Marine Sgt. Maj. Andrew and Mrs. Hattie McKenzie.

Monique is a student at Lee County High School and plans to attend Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Ga., in the fall.

The students will receive certificates in honor of their selection as Defense Commissary Agency/Fisher House Foundation scholars during a ceremony set for 10:30 a.m., June 14 at the MCLB Albany Commissary. A representative of the local scholarship sponsor, Kraft Foods Inc., plans to attend the scholarship award ceremony.

The Scholarships for Military Children program made its debut in 2001, awarding 400 scholarships to graduating high school or college-enrolled students in four-year degree programs. The scholarships are open to qualified sons and daughters of U.S. military members including active duty personnel, retirees, and Guards and Reservists.

The minimum requirements are a 3.0 grade point average, leadership activities, and a written essay. The subject of this year's essay was how the applicant's community activities have enriched his or her community. Students turn in their applications at their nearest commissary and winners are honored in special ceremonies at the commissary, or at an appropriate community function.

"The commissary benefit is essential to the readiness of our military families and an integral part of the military community," said Courter. "The scholarship program serves to help cement that relationship."

The Fisher House Foundation administers the Scholarships for Military Children program. Known for building military comfort homes near military medical facilities, the foundation has 29 homes located in the United States and Germany, with more on the way.

Manufacturers and organizations that do business with the commissary system fund the scholarships with donations that would ordinarily be used for various other contests and promotions. Fisher House accepts the donations and contracts with Scholarship Managers, a firm with extensive experience in scholarship management, to screen the student applications and choose recipients based on merit. Fisher House and DeCA are not directly involved in selecting recipients.

"After we saw the caliber of the students receiving scholarships in last year's program," said Fisher House Foundation Chairman Arnold Fisher, "we knew the program was rewarding the right students, and we were delighted to administer the program again in 2002. With increased support from DeCA's business partners, we were able to award even more scholarships this year."

As in the 2001 program, the recipient quality for 2002 was extremely high.

"The grade point averages of the winners are in the 3.8 range," said Bernard CotŽ of Scholarship Managers. "But what's particularly impressive to me is the level of extracurricular and community volunteerism military children display. It reflects a level of maturity not seen in applicants from other scholarship programs."

"Military children are often more mature," agreed Courter. "They have to adapt to constant relocation and new environments. During times of crisis, such as we face now, they may also have to deal with a parent being deployed for long periods. If we can play a part in reducing a military family's financial stress, not only through commissary savings of more than 30 percent, but by defraying some of the costs of financing higher education," Courter continued, "then that serves to make the commissary benefit even more essential to our military families."

The list of 2002 scholarship recipients can be found at www.commissaries.com.

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