Scholarship recipients express gratitude to donors

As young people prepare to head to colleges, universities, trade schools and other higher-education institutions, the Community Foundation of the Ozarks is celebrating the nearly 1,000 students who received scholarships administered by the CFO. Generous donors have established more than 400 scholarship funds to help make the cost of higher education more affordable for students across our region. We asked several of them to share their thoughts as they prepare for the next step of their education. Here are a few of the messages we received from these extraordinary students.


“Receiving this scholarship has impacted my life in more ways than one. I have been able to pursue my degree with a content heart knowing that I don’t have to stress about finances. Thank you for helping to make my college experience better than I ever dreamed.”

Madison Bauer, a 2017 graduate of Reeds Spring High School, has been selected to continue receiving the Henry J. and Lucille J. Straus Scholarship. This will be her third year receiving the scholarship, totaling $18,000 in financial assistance for her education. Bauer is attending Southwest Baptist University, where she is pursuing a degree in biology with an emphasis in physical therapy.

The Henry J. and Lucille J. Straus Scholarship Fund was established the Straus family in 1998 to support students attending private universities. It is the largest scholarship administered by the CFO, awarding $6,000 on a renewable basis to more than a dozen students each year.


“I am very thankful for the opportunity that these scholarships provide. I am excited to journey on to college, to find my place in the world, and am looking forward to making it a better place. Without the financial assistance that these scholarships provide, I would not have been able to pursue my dreams.”

Alexus Buckert, a 2019 graduate of Marionville High School, has been selected to receive three scholarships administered by the CFO: the Marionville Alumni Scholarship, the Laverta Arnhart Jones Scholarship and the John and Betty Morris Scholarship. Buckert will attend the University of Missouri-Kansas City this fall, where she plans to pursue a degree in political science with a minor in criminal justice. After completing her bachelor’s degree, she plans to attend the UMKC School of Law.

The Marionville Alumni Scholarship Fund was established by the Marionville R-IX School District in 2017 to support its graduating seniors. The Laverta Arnhart Jones Scholarship Fund was established by a planned gift in 2010 to benefit students from Lawrence County. The John and Betty Morris Scholarship Fund was established by a planned gift in 2008 to benefit graduating seniors of Marionville High School.


“I’m so incredibly thankful for this scholarship and the donors who made it possible. Without it, I would have been unable to spend the last three years in a community of professors and staff who truly love and value their students, and who strive to serve them in every way possible. I have been so blessed to attend the University of Mobile, and that never would have been possible without the support that this scholarship has given me.”

Kathryn Gray, a 2016 graduate of Forsyth High School, has been selected to continue receiving the Henry J. and Lucille J. Straus Scholarship. This will be her fourth year receiving the scholarship, totaling $24,000 in financial assistance for her education. Gray is attending the University of Mobile in Alabama, where she will complete her bachelor’s degree in marine science with a minor in chemistry in 2020. She plans to pursue a career in wildlife rescue and rehabilitation. This summer, she is interning at a rehabilitation hospital for sea turtles in North Carolina.


“I was excited to find out that I had been chosen to receive the Marlin and Jean Pinnell Annual Scholarship. This scholarship will help me to meet my goal of obtaining a degree in secondary education at Pitt State.”

Owen Gray, a 2019 graduate of Diamond High School, has been selected to receive the Marlin and Jean Pinnell Annual Scholarship. Gray will attend Pittsburg State University this fall, where he plans to pursue a degree in secondary education with an emphasis in history and communications.

The Marlin and Jean Pinnell Annual Scholarship Fund was established in 2015 to benefit Diamond High School graduating seniors seeking a degree in secondary education.


“With the support of the Henry J. and Lucille J. Straus Scholarship, I’ll be able to get a bachelor’s degree in psychology to become a school counselor. I will be forever grateful for the donors who help make my future brighter.”

Sophia Greenwalt, a 2017 graduate of Reeds Spring High School, has been selected to continue receiving the Henry J. and Lucille J. Straus Scholarship. This will be her third year receiving the scholarship, totaling $18,000 in financial assistance for her education. Greenwalt is attending Drury University, where she is pursuing a degree in psychology.


“I’m very thankful and honored to have received these scholarship. College is very expensive and these scholarships will help pay for certain college expenses. I would like to thank the donors who have graciously provided these scholarships to help me to pursue my college education.”

Mary Hayse, a 2019 graduate of Cassville High School, has been selected to receive the Ray and Wilma Skelton Legacy Scholarship and the Russ Melton Scholarship. Hayse will attend Crowder College in Cassville this fall, where she plans to study teacher education.

The Ray and Wilma Skelton Legacy Scholarship Fund in 2010 was established by the Skelton family. The Russ Melton Scholarship Fund was established in 2015 by the Cassville R-IV School District and the Cassville Community Foundation, an affiliate of the CFO. Both scholarship funds are available exclusively to graduating seniors of Cassville High School.


“I’m very thankful that the Community Foundation of the Ozarks chose me to be one of their scholarship recipients. These two scholarships have more than just monetary value to me. I was given an opportunity to attend a university that would otherwise be unaffordable. I want to be ambitious and community-minded throughout my college career and life because of those in my life who taught me the importance of education and community.”

William Hutson, a 2019 graduate of Central High School in Springfield, has been selected to receive the Henry J. and Lucille J. Straus and Marie Ooley scholarships. Hutson will attend Washington University in St. Louis this fall, where he plans to study biomedical engineering, biology and medicine.

The Marie Ooley Scholarship Fund was established by a planned gift in 2015 to benefit Springfield Public Schools students pursuing higher education.


“With the Hearld and Marge Ambler Scholarship, I will officially be able to graduate from college debt-free. The scholarships provided by the CFO have lifted a financial burden from myself and my family and have allowed me to fully focus on the pursuit of higher education. Furthermore, in receiving a scholarship specifically designed to empower Missouri students, I am reminded of the support of my community and the gratitude I have for the generosity of its members.”

Alexis Jackson, a 2016 graduate of Nixa High School, has been selected to continue receiving the Hearld and Marge Ambler Scholarship. The scholarship has provided a total of $10,000 in assistance for her education. Jackson is attending Washington University in St. Louis, where she will graduate in 2020 with bachelor’s degrees in business administration and political science and a minor in Spanish. After graduation, she plans to pursue a career in public policy, advocating for educational and economic opportunities for rural areas.

The Hearld and Marge Ambler Scholarship Fund was established in 2007 by the Amblers. Hearld Ambler is one of the CFO’s founders.


“I’m so thankful while also feeling incredibly honored and blessed to be chosen for the 2019 Herb & Maxine Trimble Scholarship. I’ve set lofty goals for myself to attain a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and science while continuing my softball career at the college level, so that I can become a future teacher and coach. College funding can be a big hurdle, but through the amazing generosity of the Trimble family, I’m on the right path to begin my journey.”

Belleanne Johnson, a 2019 graduate of Branson High School, has been selected to receive the Herb and Maxine Trimble Scholarship. Johnson will attend North Arkansas College this fall, where she plans to pursue a degree in secondary education.

The Herb and Maxine Trimble Scholarship Fund was established through a planned gift in 2008 to benefit students in Branson and Hollister.


“When I found out I was awarded both of these scholarships, I was ecstatic. I am so thankful for any donation that will help me further my education, knowledge and view of the world. To anyone involved in the scholarship process, thank you for choosing me.”

Ashley McCulloch, a 2019 graduate of Ozark High School, has been selected to receive the Dennis Miller Memorial and Sandy Russell Memorial scholarships. McCulloch will attend Drury University this fall, where she plans to study psychology, Spanish and philosophy. She will also play soccer for the Lady Panthers.

The Dennis Miller Memorial Fund was established in 2001 and the Sandy Russell Memorial Scholarship for Ozark Public Schools Fund was established in 2005. Both funds award scholarships to students graduating from Ozark High School.


“Without this renewable scholarship, I would not have been able to attend Belmont. So far, my experience at my dream college has been everything to me. I am sincerely grateful to the donors who make higher education possible for me and so many students.”

Anna Miller, a 2017 graduate of Ozark High School, has been selected to continue receiving the Henry J. and Lucille J. Straus Scholarship. This will be her third year receiving the scholarship, totaling $18,000 in financial assistance for her education. Miller is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in songwriting with a minor in music business at Belmont University in Nashville.


“When my name was called that I had earned this scholarship, I was so grateful because I worked hard for it. It helps out a lot for college and I am so thankful to the Harding Family Foundation for making this scholarship possible.”

Ethan Pellegren, a 2019 graduate of Nixa High School, has been selected to receive the Harding Family Foundation Scholarship. Pellegren will attend Drury University this fall, where he plans to pursue a degree in physical therapy.

The Harding Family Foundation Scholarship was established in 2010 by Cindy Harding to benefit graduating seniors of Nixa High School.


“I am so grateful for the scholarships I received from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. The Straus Scholarship has been such a blessing, paying for much of my schooling with their generosity. Because of these donors, I have been set up for a great future ahead.”

Abigail Roy, a 2016 graduate of Mansfield High School, has been selected to continue receiving the Henry J. and Lucille J. Straus Scholarship. This will be her fourth year receiving the scholarship, totaling $24,000 in financial assistance for her education. Roy will complete a bachelor’s degree in business administration at Evangel University in 2020, where she is majoring in accounting and minoring in finance. She has already accepted a full-time position as a staff accountant for Springfield-based Elliott, Robinson & Co. LLP and will start work next summer.


“I’m truly blessed to have received these scholarships. I am grateful that I get to continue my academic career from the generosity of these donors. I’m excited for what the future holds and thankful for the Community Foundation of the Ozarks and the Finley River Community Foundation for allowing these opportunities.”

Hayden Tinker, a 2019 graduate of Ozark High School, has been selected to receive the Bill Hanks and Wilbur Wilson OHS Scholarship and the Josephine Plummer Memorial Scholarship. Tinke will attend Missouri Southern State University this fall, where he plans to pursue a degree in psychology.

The Bill Hanks and Wilbur Wilson OHS Scholarship Fund and the Josephine Plummer Memorial Scholarship Fund are components of Finley River Community Foundation, an affiliate of the CFO. Both funds were established by their donors to benefit graduating seniors of Ozark High School.


“I hope to one day help students pursue their dreams just as this scholarship has allowed me to pursue mine.”

Zisansha Zahirsha, a 2012 graduate of Kickapoo High School in Springfield, has been selected to continue receiving the Smith-Glynn-Callaway Foundation Scholarship. This will be his fourth year receiving the scholarship, totaling $20,000 in financial assistance for his education. Zahirsha is attending Saint Louis University School of Medicine. He plans to become a physician with a focus on providing care for underserved communities.

The Smith-Glynn-Callaway Foundation Scholarship Fund in Honor of Dr. Stanley Peterson was established in 2007 by the Smith Glynn Callaway Medical Foundation to benefit students pursuing medical and paramedical degrees.


“I was very honored to receive this scholarship. Mrs. Overby is very special to my family and this will help me pursue my goals to become a geological engineer.”

Weston Zoll, a 2019 graduate of Bernie High School, has been selected to receive the Joyce Petty Overby Scholarship. Zoll will attend Missouri University of Science and Technology this fall to study geological engineering. After college, he plans to pursue a career in oil or natural resources.

The Joyce Petty Overby Scholarship Fund was established in 2017 to benefit a graduating senior of Bernie High School.

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