CHAMBERSBURG — The Lenfest Scholars Foundation recently awarded five Chambersburg Area Senior High School (CASHS) juniors four-year scholarships of up to $12,000 per year.
The students, Katelyn Jones, Enrique Del Leon-Raya, Milo Miller, Emily Roat, and Eduardo Meija, were selected from only 32 available scholarships that are awarded each year in partnering high schools in south-central and southeastern Pennsylvania.
“I was over the moon when I found out they were selected for the scholarship,” said Stephanie Parrett, International Baccalaureate (IB) English and Honors English teacher at CASHS.
All of the students selected for the scholarship are enrolled in Parrett’s IB English class and received assistance from her during the application process.
“She worked closely with each one of us, not just those of us who were selected for the scholarship,” said Enrique Del Leon-Raya. “We even had students that were selected last year come in and give us advice on our applications and answer questions. I owe a big ‘thank you’ to her because she was the one who really helped us with our essays.”
The Lenfest Scholarship application begins with writing an essay and increases in difficulty as a student is selected for the next step.
“Many students apply each year and we have them create draft essays,” said Parrett. “From there, if the students have the initiative to go forward, we hold different sessions, writing workshops, and even have different teachers come and give them advice. It’s a really authentic process that sees students grow through each draft.”
29 students at CASHS were selected as semi-finalists and were asked to provide teacher and counselor letters of recommendations and to write three additional essays. Of those students, eight were selected as finalists and were interviewed in person by a panel from the Lenfest scholarship selection committee.
Students answered questions about both their essays and their views on current topics and events.
“We went to Dickenson College in Carlisle and there were six interviewers,” said Katelyn Jones. “They asked us questions about our essays and about us in general, but they also asked us to talk about a controversial topic and how we felt about it, which was difficult to answer.”
Even though most of the students found the interview process to be difficult, five of the eight finalists from CASHS were awarded Lenfest Scholarships.
“I got the e-mail that I was selected for the scholarship on the bus, but I didn’t open it until I got home because I thought, ‘this could be it or not,’” explained Enrique Del Leon-Raya. “When I got home and opened it I was really surprised.”
“My brother and I were home alone when I learned that I got it and I started screaming. I was so excited,” said Milo Miller. “I had been obsessively checking my e-mail for a week and was just looking for it to say, ‘sorry but you didn’t make it,’ because the process was super hard and we were grilled in the interviews.”
Students selected for the scholarship receive more than just financial assistance; they become part of a learning community that features mentoring and academic support to achieve their long-term goals.
“It’s not just about the money with the scholarship,” added Emily Roat. “I didn’t realize how much more there is to the program until we got through the application process. There’s counseling, tutoring, mock tests, and so much more than just money. They really are trying to prepare us for the future.”
According to the Lenfest website, the scholarship program was started by H.F. (Gerry) and Marguerite Lenfest as a way to create opportunities for rural Pennsylvania students.
Since 2001, the Lenfest College Scholarship Program has helped talented students from southeastern and central Pennsylvania pursue their dreams.
Hundreds of students have benefitted from the program.