May 9, 2008 - San Antonio, TX - Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., (TMS) rewarded 100 high school seniors with $1 million in college scholarships for their commitment to education and community service at an awards banquet tonight.
The winners, who make up the 12th class of Toyota Community Scholars, were chosen from a pool of more than 8,000 students nationwide nominated by their schools. To be eligible, students must be proven leaders both in the classroom and in their communities.
Based on its accomplishments, the 2008 class learned at an early age that "giving back" to the community was not an obligation, but, rather, a way of life. As one Scholar, Jacob Rouse of Union, Ky., put it: "When helping others, an incredible feeling is instilled in your veins. This feeling allows you to believe you have meaning in the world."
For the 2008 class, their dreams of making a difference became reality through programs ranging from raising $120,000 for the American Cancer Society to collecting over 3,000 pounds of food that was distributed to youngsters at more than 160 schools. In addition, one scholar – a cancer survivor and amputee – has personally visited over 600 patients with the same afflictions, providing them with gift boxes.
"It is truly amazing to see what these 100 high school seniors have accomplished at such a young age," said Michael Rouse, TMS corporate manager of philanthropy and community affairs. "Their dedication both to academics and community service is an inspiration to all of us."
The scholarships are valued at $20,000 or $10,000 each, over four years, for study at a four-year college or university starting in the fall of 2008. Since the Toyota Community Scholars program began in 1997, TMS has awarded over $13 million in scholarships to 1,200 students across the U.S.
Kristen Allcorn, a Toyota Community Scholar from Sedalia, Mo., is a prime example of the dedication to community service exhibited by this year's class. As the founder of The Community Café, Allcorn and her group of volunteer students have provided over 11,000 free evening meals to needy residents in her hometown. Hot meals are served five nights a week, with plans to expand that to three meals each day, seven days a week.
All told, Allcorn and her group have raised over $13,000 to keep The Community Café operational.
Consequently, Allcorn, like many of the Scholars, found community service to be the roadmap to what she wants to do in the future. "I never imagined the impact The Community Café would have on my community or myself. The Community Café has influenced my career plans, and I have committed to living a life of service."
The Toyota Community Scholars program is administered by Educational Testing Services in Princeton, N.J. The 12 national winners ($20,000 each) and 88 regional winners ($10,000 each) were selected by a panel of college and university admissions officials from across the U.S.
The scholarship winners were guests of honor tonight at an awards banquet in San Antonio that was attended by education, community, business and government leaders. Liz Murray, subject of the Lifetime Television movie, From Homeless to Harvard, was the keynote speaker.
The two-and-a-half-day program included a tour of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas, Inc., in San Antonio, which builds the Tundra full-size pickup truck. In addition, the Scholars enjoyed an authentic Texas BBQ dinner, with games, entertainment and dancing at the Rio Cibolo Ranch.
Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. is the marketing, sales, distribution and customer service arm of Toyota, Lexus and Scion in the United States, marketing products and services through a network of 1,427 Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealers in 49 states. Established in 1957, TMS and its subsidiaries also are involved in distribution logistics, motorsports, and research and development.
2008 TOYOTA COMMUNITY SCHOLARS CITY HIGH SCHOOL ALABAMA Nicole Bohannon Sheffield Sheffield High School ALASKA Ceylon Mitchell Anchorage East Anchorage High School ARIZONA Joanna Yang * Phoenix Desert Vista High School Teri Yu Phoenix Desert Vista High School ARKANSAS Ashley Louks Judsonia Pangburn High School Michelle Martin Jasper Jasper High School CALIFORNIA Albert Chen * Buena Park Oxford Academy Theodore Gonder Glendale Crescenta Valley High School Carlos Guzman Dinuba Dinuba High School Monica Liu Rancho Palos Verdes Palos Verdes Peninsula High School Jasmine Nachtigall San Mateo Hillsdale High School Rita Sandoval Desert Hot Springs Desert Hot Springs High School Zachary Stauber Gold River Mira Loma High School Gregory Woodburn Ventura Ventura Senior High School Danni Xie Thousand Oaks Westlake High School COLORADO Bret Johnson Fountain Fountain Ft. Carson High School David Rolla Commerce City Adams City High School CONNECTICUT Laura Ly Shelton Shelton High School DELAWARE Virginia Nicholson Wilmington Tower Hill School DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA Margaret Birkel Washington National Cathedral School FLORIDA David Akinin Miami Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School Sarah Hodges Leesburg First Academy Lauren Rowe Gainesville Eastside High School Bernadette Stocker Flagler Beach St. Joseph Academy GEORGIA Jordan Croom Marietta Walker School Caterina Li Duluth Duluth High School Kanya Manoj Duluth Woodward Academy Laura Okolie Riverdale Riverdale High School ILLINOIS Maddelynn Hawkins Pinckneyville Pinckneyville Community High School Elena Holler Sherman Williamsville High School Christine Mattappillil Glenview Glenbrook South High School Kathleen McGlynn Belleville Althoff Catholic High School INDIANA Eric Majors Indianapolis Pike High School IOWA Briana McGeough Cedar Falls Cedar Falls High School KANSAS Nandini Sarma Overland Park Shawnee Mission East High School KENTUCKY Deep Aggarwal Louisville Dupont Manual High School Jacob Rouse * Union Larry A. Ryle High School LOUISIANA Danielle Axelson Bossier City Airline High School Shanell Booker Monroe Wossman High School Niharika Jain Shreveport Caddo Parish Magnet High School MAINE Thomas Balch Newcastle Lincoln Academy MARYLAND Maria Sebastian * Boyds Northwest High School Eric Weisberg Bethesda Walt Whitman High School Xuemin Zhang Burtonsville Paint Branch High School MASSACHUSETTS Marie DeLuca Stow Nashoba Regional High School Luke Fraser * Hopkinton Hopkinton High School MICHIGAN Casey Hoffman Menominee Menominee Area High School Alexandra McGregor Waterford Waterford Kettering High School Mitchell Rivard Bay City Bay City Western High School MINNESOTA Shanna Decker * Plainview Plainview-Elgin-Millville High School Caitlin Johnson Rochester Century High School Megan Sjostrom Lafayette GFW High School MISSISSIPPI Abigail Hardin * Clinton Jackson Academy Lynice Higgins Hazlehurst Hazlehurst High School MISSOURI Kristen Allcorn * Sedalia Smith-Cotton High School Lauren Lacey Troy Troy Buchanan High School Kathleen Russell Webster Groves Cor Jesu Academy MONTANA Chelsea Brauer Forsyth Forsyth High School NEBRASKA Wayne Banks Bellevue Bellevue West Senior High School Keshav Rao Omaha Brownell-Talbot School NEVADA Brian Choe Las Vegas Advanced Technologies Academy NEW HAMPSHIRE Jeffrey McInnis Greenville Mascenic Regional High School NEW JERSEY Sharon Kim Fort Lee Bergen County Academies John Monagle * Clark Arthur L. Johnson High School Becky Moran Pleasantville Home schooled Jolene Wang Piscataway Piscataway High School NEW YORK Eason Hahm Chestnut Ridge Spring Valley Senior High School Jason Mogen Dix Hills Half Hollow Hills High School West Nastasha Pollard Stony Point North Rockland High School Brittany Robles Smithtown Smithtown High School West Sheel Tyle Pittsford Pittsford Mendon High School NORTH CAROLINA Elizabeth Carney Charlotte Myers Park High School Ryan Hollander Winston-Salem Forsyth Country Day School NORTH DAKOTA Alex Windjue West Fargo West Fargo High School OHIO Ann Cheng Cincinnati Walnut Hills High School Jacob Potticary Loveland Loveland High School OKLAHOMA Carly Schnaithman Garber Garber High School OREGON Richie Day Salem South Salem Senior High School PENNSYLVANIA Christopher Shotter Monaca Monaca Junior/Senior High School SOUTH CAROLINA Tyler Bridges Sumter Sumter High School Graham Van Schaik * Columbia Spring Valley High School SOUTH DAKOTA Nicholas Stukel Burke Gregory High School TENNESSEE Sharda Fields Memphis Whitehaven High School Caroline Hadley Knoxville Bearden High School Chandler Lawson Tullahoma Tullahoma High School TEXAS Trevor Burbank * Flower Mound Flower Mound High School Nicole Castro Keller Keller High School Mark Hernandez Eagle Pass C.C. Winn High School Marilyn Mootz Dallas Highland Park High School Jasmine Thum Austin Liberal Arts & Science Academy Kavita Venkateswar San Antonio Winston Churchill High School UTAH Sydney Hartsell Salt Lake City Rowland Hall St. Mark's School VIRGINIA Ian Akers Radford Radford High School Ariel Talts Danville Galileo Magnet High School Sydney Tenhundfeld Charlottesville Renaissance School WASHINGTON Erik Hille * Ritzville Ritzville High School Sarah Klemsz Battle Ground Prairie High School Brian Tolkin Mercer Island Mercer Island High School WISCONSIN Brittaney Check Wauwatosa Wauwatosa East High School Rachael Lester Cedarburg Cedarburg Senior High School * National winner - $20,000 scholarship All others receive $10,000 scholarship
2008 TOYOTA COMMUNITY SCHOLARS
Community Service Snapshots
Following is a small sampling of community-service projects performed by the 2008 class of Toyota Community Scholars (more detail can be provided upon request; student interviews can also be arranged).
• Surviving cancer and an amputation inspired this Scholar to found the Hearts of Hope project, where she mentors and personally visits cancer patients and amputees as they undergo treatments and/or recover from limb loss. Over the past nine years, she has visited more than 600 patients, and dedicates more than 300 hours of service per year to patients and their families. She funds the project herself with money earned from a part-time job.
(Shanna Decker, Plainview, Minn.)
• Founded The Community Café, a soup kitchen that has provided more than 11,000 meals to the needy. The Community Café has also raised more than $13,000 from civic groups and individuals. Hot meals are currently served five nights a week; the program also provides a take-out meal service. This Scholar hopes to expand The Community Café to offer meals three times each day, seven days a week to ease hunger and help to relieve the financial strain of the people served. (Kristen Allcorn, Sedalia, Mo.)
• This Scholar helped raise $21,000 to benefit Team River Runner, an organization that rehabilitates wounded U.S. soldiers at a local hospital by teaching them to kayak. The majority of the funds bought a new transport van as well as three new kayaks for the wounded veterans to use. His work with the organization has helped raise awareness about the wounded soldiers recovering at nearby Walter Reed Hospital. (Eric Weisberg, Bethesda, Md.)
• In 2005, founded Beyond All Borders – a project that aims to help children suffering from weekend hunger. The program has since collected over 3,000 pounds of food for distribution to more than 160 schools in New Jersey. Beyond All Borders has also expanded its focus to global-hunger issues by reaching out to help alleviate Kenya's hunger problems. This student's group also raised $5,300 to plant five acres of passion fruit for 50 Kenyan farm families. (John Monagle, Clark, N.J.)
• Based on the need for programs focused on character-development in children, this Scholar started a non-profit foundation called the Open My Eyes Foundation, which carries a message encouraging students to see every person as valuable. By means of the book she has authored, Look At Me I Am Just Like You, this Scholar has led discussions with over 1,500 children, ultimately raising awareness that leads students to accept diversity. She is confident that her project will help put an end to loneliness, racism, suicides, self-centeredness and bullying in forthcoming generations. (Abigail Hardin, Clinton, Miss.)
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