Some might call it a simple piece of paper, but it’s often needed to even be considered for employment at many places of business. Yes, a college degree. The path to earn one, though, is paved with financial turbulence with the cost ranging anywhere from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
We hear all the time about student loan debt and being able to afford college; together we can do something about it. It might seem like a drop in the bucket, but scholarships can be a great way to help alleviate some of the pressures put on students and families in the pursuit of educational excellence and job preparedness.
I have established two scholarships through the 501(c) (3) nonprofit service organization I founded and run with an amazing board of directors, the Saco Bay Center for Civic Engagement. The first is the Future Entrepreneur Scholarship and as the name suggests, will seek to assist and empower the next generation of business owners and entrepreneurs through financial assistance. As a small business owner myself and knowing that micro-businesses, sole proprietors, LLCs and the like make up a majority of the business community in Maine, it’s really important to me to find creative ways to support innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit early on in a young person’s life.
One $500 scholarship will be awarded to the graduating senior at Old Orchard Beach High School that plans to major in business, hospitality management, a trade or related tourism field. Small business owners represent the key aspects of the Old Orchard Beach community. We want to makes sure our talented young people come back to work in the area after they graduate. This is a step toward reaching that goal.
The guidance department’s scholarship committee will handle the applications and award the student with an announcement at graduation. The selected student will receive the scholarship money in their second semester of college granted they maintain a GPA of at least 2.0.
Look for information soon about an event the center is putting together in August in Old Orchard Beach to help pay for this and other scholarships. It will be a lot of fun for the whole family and support our local Old Orchard Beach businesses at the same time.
The other scholarship the center is establishing is the Justin Chenette Spirit of Service Scholarship at my alma mater, Thornton Academy. I graduated in 2009 and since then have remained involved in the TA community as a class agent. I like to think of ourselves as a big extended family, always helping and leaning on each other in times of need.
The scholarship will be awarded to a graduating senior from Thornton Academy that has demonstrated a passion for helping others, strong leadership skills and has worked to improve the community outside of the school’s campus. Much like when I was involved as a student not too long ago, including student council, National Honor Society and my work to inform people about the latest news and political interviews through TATV Channel 3.
This way I can leave a piece of myself behind at a school and a community that has given so much to me. Any successes in my life can be tied back to my experiences in high school that forever prepared me for a changing world. A state pin, $500 and a legislative letter of recognition will be awarded to the student who best represents the goal of the scholarship to encourage and assist the next generation ofSaco leaders in achieving their educational objectives.
To apply for both the Saco and Old Orchard Beach scholarships, students can visit their guidance office for the application. You can also find information about the center’s scholarships as well as ways to provide a tax-deductible donation to help us fund these scholarships on our website at www.sacobaycenter.org.
Justin Chenette is serving his second term as state representative for Saco District 15. Outside the Legislature, he is owner of Chenette Media LLC, a multimedia public relations company, and is the president/CEO of the Saco Bay Center of Civic Engagement, a 501c3 nonprofit service organization. Follow updates at www.justinchenette.com, Facebook.com/JustinChenette, and Twitter.com/ JustinChenette.
Beyond the Headlines
Weekly Column featured in The Biddeford-Saco-OOB Courier Newspaper by Rep. Justin Chenette of Saco