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South Valley Riverton Journal

High school seniors who give back to the community received Rotary Club scholarships

Jul 03, 2023 01:16PM ● By Katherine Weinstein

From left to right, South Valley Rotary Club Youth Chair Amy Jensen, scholarship recipients Lexi Kunze, Kyra Tischler, Alison Ballard and Olivia Haslam, and Club President-Elect Brenda Newman posed for a photograph at a June 22 luncheon meeting of the South Valley Rotary Club. (Katherine Weinstein/City Journals)

A sign at the June 22 luncheon meeting of the South Valley Rotary Club read, “Be A Gift to the World.” The motto would easily apply to each of the recipients of the Rotary Club scholarship program for high school seniors. The winning students and their family members attended the meeting, held at HuHot Mongolian Grill in Sandy, to receive their scholarship certificates and to learn about what the Rotary Club stands for. 

Originally founded in 1905 as a club for businessmen, Rotary International is now a global network of 1.4 million people working together to better the world. Rotary Clubs are dedicated to promoting peace, fighting disease, providing clean water and sanitation, saving mothers and children, supporting education, growing local economies and protecting the environment.

Sharon Richardson, the secretary/treasurer of the South Valley Rotary Club, said “It is the biggest humanitarian foundation in the world. We’re just a small part of that very big organization.”

The South Valley Rotary Club was founded twenty years ago as the Draper-Riverton Rotary Club. Its name was changed to include nearby communities such as Bluffdale and Herriman. The club’s diverse achievements range from donating medical equipment to a hospital in Guatemala to spearheading the construction of the Jordan River Rotary Park in Draper. 

The organization also awards two types of scholarships to high school seniors who are making a difference through service work. This year, the Russ Cannon Scholarship, an award of $1,000 named after the South Valley Rotary Club’s founder, was granted to two students. Four other students received scholarships in the amount of $500 each. 

Youth Chair Amy Jensen explained the process. “We sent invitations to eight or nine area high schools inviting people to apply,” she said. Each applicant must write an essay on how they have used the Rotary’s “Four-Way Test” in their high school lives. 

The Four-Way Test is an ethical guide for Rotarians. Before speaking, thinking or acting, they are encouraged to ask themselves the following: “Is it the Truth? Is it Fair to all concerned? Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships? Will it be Beneficial to all concerned?” 

Kyra Tischler, who graduated from Riverton High School said “I learned about Rotary values at Teen Leadership in middle school.” The Russ Cannon scholarship winner explained that she was mindful of the Four-Way Test as she counseled girls at a summer camp and worked with special needs kids at Blue Sky Therapeutic Riding school in Texas. Tischler is headed to Southern Utah University. “Eventually I want to be a zoo vet,” she said. “It’s been my dream since preschool.” 

Olivia Haslam, a graduate of Mountain Ridge High School, also won a Russ Cannon scholarship. “At Mountain Ridge, we have the ‘Season of Scarlet’ where we raise money for charity,” she explained. “I helped raise over a quarter of a million dollars.” Haslam was active in student government and DECA, which prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs. She plans to major in business administration at the University of Utah. 

Another scholarship winner, Alison Ballard, graduated from Riverton High School and served as Youth Mayor on the Riverton Youth Council where she helped out with many civic events and service projects. She is headed to Brigham Young University in the fall and wants to become a dietitian. “I just love food and nutrition,” Ballard said. “I would like to help people be healthy.” 

A graduate of Herriman High School, Lexi Kunze said that the values expressed in the Four-Way Test resonated with her as she spent time helping the elderly at Sagewood at Daybreak retirement community. “Making time to do some service work, doing good for them, made me feel good,” she said. Kunze plans to pursue a career as a physician’s assistant and will attend Utah Valley University.

Other Rotary Club scholarship winners who were not able to attend the meeting were Riverton High School graduates Halle Taylor and Christopher Chevalier.

The Vision Statement on the Rotary website states, “Together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change-- across the globe, in our communities and in ourselves.” The scholarship winners for 2023 seem to be well on their way to doing their part. λ