FALL 2011: Our First Graduates!
Melissa Pognon, our first scholarship recipient from Project Morry, has Graduated! She is moving forward, continuing her studies abroad, working in Spain through a program by the University of Alcala, interning in the Matching Gifts Department at the US Fund for UNICEF. Well Done Melissa!
Jordana Beaty, our 2008 recipient from Benton High School, has just been accepted to the LPN program at Rend Lake College. Way to go Jordana!
Jennifer Nolan, our 2008 recipient from Project Morry, has just found out that she landed an internship with the U.S. Marshall's Office in their Manhattan office. Congrats, and best of luck Jennifer!
Chris Stewart, our 2007 recipient from Benton High School (pictured above, on right), was able to take part in a trip to Santiago, Chile, to present at the VIII Latin American Symposium on Nuclear Physics and Applications. While there, his team presented some of the background information and preliminary results of the research that he has been doing over the past year and a half.
Donna Kaye Smith was an amazing lady. A small woman by most measures…but when Donna Kaye entered a room, she commanded attention. She was the type of person who never met a stranger. She was always armed with a smile and a laugh that you could both see and hear from a mile away. In addition to taking care of her family, Donna Kaye’s calling in life was finding people who were not enjoying themselves and impact them in a positive ways.
The fact that she dealt with the spread of Cancer and it’s devastating effects on her body for more than 30 years, impacted Donna Kaye in many ways. As she shared with all, the biggest impact was the realization that LIFE and the time to live it was very precious. She found it hard to allow the natural flow of events and time to solve the issues that she thought she could handle on her own. She felt that any problem, no matter to whom it belonged, was for her to solve. Knowing that her time on this earth was short, she did not want to get caught up in, or mess with, drama. She just wanted to get things done so that she could have fun with those that she loved; and I can tell you, there were not many people that she did not love.
Donna began her adult life as a 19 year old single mother of two, living on relief in a federal housing project in Southern Illinois. Reeling from dropping out of school, getting married, having two children getting divorced and living on the street, she quickly realized that she had to take control of her life and so she did. She got a job and enrolled in night school to get her GED. It was a very proud day for her when she completed that course and received her diploma. It was at about this time when she began preaching to both Valerie and Scott that they could be and do anything they wanted, if they worked hard enough. Donna Kaye did not think she was a very smart person, but in the years to come, with some encouragement from her new husband Dick, her sister Suzie and others, she began studying for and earned her real estate license; another very proud day for her. By the way, this accomplishment was the end for all around her as she was now convinced that if she could earn her real estate license we could all become anything. Her faith in people and their ability to achieve was never ending. Before going into one of her earlier surgeries, one that ended up being a more than 16 hours long where she received 5 complete blood transfusions, she grasped her doctors hand and said, “thank you”. Her doctor replied what for, and she said “I know no matter what happens today, you will not give up on me and I am going to get to see my children grow up”.
In August of 2005, after 30 years of dealing with cancer, which included more than 30 surgical procedures, over 200 hours under anesthesia, a broken back, an arm, both legs, ribs…and numerous other broken bones, (all due to the maximum amount of radiation allowed a human), and being on dialysis 5 hours a day 3 days a week, Donna Kaye decided it was time to go home to God. Like everything she did, Donna Kaye made her decision and she then went and did it with grace. Before Donna Kaye passed, we shared the news of creation of this scholarship with her and this is what she had to say,
“Tell them that no matter what difficulty they face, they can overcome it.”