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Carson Valley Sertoma Scholarships Support Aspiring Students

The Carson Valley Sertoma Club, of Carson Valley, Nevada, held its annual Book Scholarship banquet to announce and honor its new scholarship recipients of 2016. The Book Scholarship program was started to help support local students attend college. This year’s scholarship winners photographed above from left to right with Sertoma member Bob Centanni, Zach Kellar, Sabrina Lehrke and Kelsey Kjer (award winner not pictured Spencer Flanders.)

Slowly transitioning into a new chapter of life is an outcome that looks different for everyone. For those graduating from high school, figuring out “what’s next” can be a process that requires time, effort and assistance.

Bob Centanni, a member of Sertoma for 20 years, created and began managing the Book Scholarship program in 1994. This scholarship program is one of the many ways that the Carson Valley Sertoma Club, of Carson Valley, Nevada, has positively and collectively impacted the youth in its community.

The scholarships are designed to help local high school graduates pursue their dream of attending a four year university by reducing the costs of books, tuition and materials.

The scholarship process begins when the students complete a five page written application that includes questions about the student’s curricular activities, future goals, academic transcripts and references. All applicants must meet a minimum GPA requirement of a 3.0 in order to be eligible for consideration.

All of the written applications include an autobiography and are reviewed by a five person committee that is selected by the Carson Valley Sertoma Club. The committee then selects candidates to be interviewed in person, and ultimately the final candidates are selected once this process is complete.

“This year we awarded a $4,000 scholarship, a $1,500 and a $500 scholarship,” Centanni said. “We provide the funds in increments each semester. The students must submit their class schedules, grades and receipts for books and materials in order to receive the scholarship funds.”

Once the students receive the scholarship funds, they must also maintain a relationship with the club in order to continue receiving portions of the payments.

“I do this for the students, and not myself. I enjoy seeing our youth progress,” Centanni said. “We like raising money for the youth, our future. It’s rewarding to see the individuals come back and share their success stories.”

Each year, the Carson Valley Sertoma Club hosts a celebratory banquet to honor and support its new scholarship recipients.

This year, the scholarship celebration breakfast was held May 20, at the C.O.D. Casino, where the 2016 winners were announced as: Zach Kellar, Sabrina Lehrke, Kelsey Kjer and Spencer Flanders.

Sabrina Lehrke, a scholarship recipient attending Arizona State University, in Phoenix, Arizona, this August, said she felt incredibly blessed to have been selected.

“My family supports me emotionally,” Lehrke said. “But it’s tough financially. This money will allow me to focus on my studies instead of working constantly to pay off the debt.”

Lehrke will be attending school in the fall, and plans to major in emergency services management. She said that in time she would like to pursue psychology and estimates that her schooling will take around 6 years. She concluded by saying how thankful she is to have Sertoma in her community.

In addition to honoring and celebrating the newest scholarship recipients, the banquet also provides past recipients with the opportunity to attend and share their university experiences.

Jessica Vega, a scholarship recipient in 2011, said that even now she is extremely thankful to have been a scholarship recipient. Vega is now a registered nurse, and said she was fortunate enough to graduate from school with no student loans.

“I’d like to send a huge thank you to Sertoma,” Vega said. “Luckily, I don’t have any loans, and Sertoma is part of that. It’s awesome to see them support the community. I never want them to think that we do not appreciate everything they do.”