Alexis Joseph, a senior at Meade High School, said that before she became a volunteer during her junior year, she was shy and reserved.
“I did whatever other people told me to do,” she said.
But after Alexis joined Meade’s Key Club, the high school’s community service organization, everything changed.
“That showed me how people can connect,” she said. “The Key Club became my first family.”
Alexis spoke about her experiences to a small gathering of Fort Meade garrison leaders, members of the Enlisted Spouses’ Club, parents and other students on May 23.
A military child, Alexis was presented the Eveyln Silva Scholarship Award of Excellence at the ESC’s annual scholarship ceremony, which was held at Argonne Hills Chapel Center.
The 17-year-old received a $5,500 scholarship toward her college education. Alexis will enroll in the fall at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, which is based in New York, to study computer science.
The scholarship is named after Evelyn Silva, a longtime ESC member and volunteer in the Fort Meade community.
Caroline McEaneney, the ESC scholarship director, said the annual scholarship is presented to “one deserving high school senior with extraordinary dedication to both academics and community service.”
“Our military youth are resilient, compassionate and determined,” McEaneney said. “But the youth seated among us tonight have surpassed all of our expectations and achieved great things, not only as students, but as volunteers in our community.”
The funds for the Evelyn Silva Scholarship Award of Excellence were provided by ESC and the Armed Forces Communication and Electronics Association’s Central Maryland Chapter.
AFCEA is a nonprofit professional organization of information technology professionals.
Jessica Morgentstern, vice president of scientific education and scholarship chair of AFCEA, presented the scholarship to Alexis.
After accepting the award, Alexis thanked her mother Navy Lt. Anitra Mingo, who works at the Pentagon, for her support.
Alexis also offered advice for other high school students.
“Applying to college is a difficult experience,” she said. “You may feel isolated at times, but remember you can always do something. Do your best and continue your volunteering.”
During the awards ceremony, the club recognized 12 high school and college students and presented 11 merit scholarships of $2,000 each.
The ESC Post Thrift Shop provides the funds for the club’s scholarships. In the past year, the Post Thrift Shop has raised more than $30,000 in scholarships and another $37,000 in donations and grants.
The 90-minute ceremony began with the posting of the colors by Boy Scout Troop 377 and Girl Scout Troop 1124.
The ESC choir sang the national anthem. Chaplain (Maj.) James Covey of the Family Life Ministry Center gave the invocation.
Meade High School Principal John Yore was the guest speaker.
In his speech, Yore said he is proud to share the accomplishments of his students.
“I get to boast about my students a lot,” he said.
As an educator for 30 years, Yore said he has strived to promote character and mutual respect as the hallmark of his tenure in education, whether in the classroom as a teacher or his work as an administrator.
His goal, he said, is to “create a place where every interaction is one of respect for the entire school” — not just among students, but staff members as well.
“Everything we do reflects class and character,” he said.
To the scholarship recipients, Yore said he knew they would achieve “exemplary things.”
“You are a gift to the world, and giving back to the community is a part of that,” he said.
Garrison Commander Col. Tom Rickard and Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Brian S. Cullen presented the merit scholarships.
Rickard said the ESC’s ability to bestow scholarships each year is “no small feat.”
“Sometimes a little boost can mean the world to young minds to become something great,” Rickard said. “I commend each of you. … You earned it and your parents earned it with you.”
After the ceremony, a toast of apple cider was raised to the scholarship recipients and the ceremonial cake was cut.
ESC Merit Scholarship Winners
Kaitlyn Comer, an accounting major at University of Maryland
Sarah Crips, a doctorate candidate at the University of Findlay in Findlay, Ohio
John Galpin, an accounting major at Clemson University.
Molly Moesner, a communications/marketing major at University of Dayton in Ohio
Catherine Platt, a pharamceutical science major at Northeastern University
Laura Radov, a chemical engineering major at University of Texas
Samuel Rothstein, a graduating senior at Century High School in Sykesville
Jordan Smith, a graphic design major at Howard Community College
Students not in attendance at the ceremony
Jasmine Johnson, a biology major at University of Georgia
Samuel Soloman is undecided about his major and will attend the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
McKenna Thomas-Franz, a neuroscience and computer science major at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine