Owatonna Kiwanis Club awards annual scholarships
Ten area students were gifted with scholarships from the Owatonna Kiwanis Club on Thursday, May 16. The scholarships are handed out annually to students who are selected by the school for their academic achievements and their involvement in extracurricular activities and the community.
In 1992, the Owatonna Kiwanis Club presented its first scholarship to an area student, and since then, the club has given over 80 scholarships during its annual event. This year the club was able to give out 10 more. There were five $1,000 scholarships and five $500 scholarships.
After a short reception, Kiwanis members Bob Stark and Jerry Ganfield handed out the scholarships, letting each student share a little about themselves and their future plans.
“It always amazes me how much involvement in the community you do,” Stark said of the students. “I kind of wonder when you have time to eat,” he quipped.
Stark detailed some of the history of the Kiwanis Club before expressing his pleasure at giving out the scholarships. “I can really say that it makes me feel good, it makes all of us at Kiwanis feel good,” he said of donating the scholarships. “I just want to say thanks to all of you,” he added.
“We’re very honored to give these scholarships to deserving students,” Kiwanis secretary Cindy Barta said. Barta explained that the school’s guidance counselors choose each student, and they traditionally look for a diverse field of students who will be pursuing different career paths.
Some of the scholarship recipients have been involved in Kiwanis Club at a young age and had received Citizen of the Year awards from the club. Kiwanis member Twylah Ottman said, “There’s a very special place in my heart for the citizen of the year award, this year we’ve given 109 between the different elementary schools.”
Ottman had past Citizen of the Year award winners in attendance raise their hands and thanked them for their continued devotion to community work. “We are so glad that you have continued with that set of relationships within the community,” she said.
This year’s District Scholarship winners were: Zachary Barrett, Emily Keck, Selena Ong, Gabriel Rysavy, and McKenna Schroht. All of the recipients of the District Scholarship will receive $1,000 to help with their college education.
The Club Scholarship winners this year were: Ilhan Omar, Lydia Rieck, Nick Staska, Ashley Kellar, and Dominick Yerhot. The Club Scholarship recipients will receive $500 to help pay for their college education.
“It’s an honor to receive the scholarship, and I’m really grateful for the Kiwanis Club of Owatonna,” District Scholarship winner Gabriel Rysavy said. Rysavy will be attending St. Mary’s University in the fall to study philosophy and Spanish.
His fellow District Scholarship winner Emily Keck was also honored to be named. “I’m very proud to receive this scholarship and it’s a big opportunity for me and I’m excited about my future,” she said. “I have done many years of community service and it’s been a good time and I like serving and helping people and I hope that continues in the future.”
Keck will be going to Minnesota State University at Mankato for pre-occupational therapy. All of the scholarship winners have bright futures ahead of them, and with help from the Kiwanis Club of Owatonna they will be able to continue the excellent work that they have done both in the community and in their personal lives.
The Kiwanis Education Foundation was founded in 1915 in Detroit, Michigan as a business network organization. They would later switch their focus to community service and take up the motto: “molding good kids into exceptional adults.” According to Stark there are currently over 600,000 members and 8,000 clubs in 96 countries.
The club owes its name to a native American phrase: "Nunc Kee-wanis," which means, "We trade." Outside of their annual scholarship donations, members are also involved in community service. This includes donating food to local churches, and helping out at places like the Steele County Food Shelf or the Steele County Clothesline.