Hickory Rotary Club recognizes the importance of a good education. At the club’s May 15th meeting an outstanding local scholar was recognized and rewarded. Hickory Rotary Club’s Service Above Self Scholarship rewards students who excel in the classroom, are recognized by teachers as leaders and who volunteer to serve others through community service, church activities and more.
To qualify for a Service Above Self scholarship, candidates must consistently demonstrate their service to others, be in the top 20% of their class, and lead by example.
During the interviews, students are evaluated on traditional scholarship standards: grades, overall grade point average and class rank. What sets this scholarship apart from many others is that each honored student must demonstrate how they serve their community.
Since 2005, twenty-nine students have received SAS scholarships totaling over $200,000. These students have attended or are attending schools such as Lenoir Rhyne University, Appalachian State University, Gardner Webb University, University of South Carolina, University of North Carolina, East Carolina University, Davidson College, Furman University, and Duke University, to name more than a few.
The Service Above Self scholarship winner from Hickory High School’s Class of 2014 will receive Rotary’s financial aid toward their college tuition. The scholarship is $10,000 payable over four years.
The recipient of the 2014 Service Above Self scholarship is Toni Arianna Abernathy. Toni is the daughter of Mary and Eugene Abernathy. She has a younger brother, Darian. This fall, Toni will begin her college education at East Carolina University. She aspires to be a neonatologist.
During her high school years, Toni has served her school and community well. She has held membership in the Key Club, the Hickory City Youth Council, Wyldlife, and YMCA Black Achievers. In each of these organizations, she has been recognized as a servant leader. She has served as vice chairperson and chairperson of the Hickory City Youth Council and the YMCA Black Achievers, which named her as the “Black Achiever of the Year” in 2011 and 2012. She received the YMCA Teen Character Award three times (March and November 2011 and November 2013). Significantly, she was accepted by all five colleges and universities to which she applied.
Toni impressed the SAS scholarship team members Dean Doucette, Thomas Griffis, Linda Lutz, Anne Williams, and Rosemary Bass Young with her openness and candor. She shared her love for her father, who suffered a stroke many years ago and remains disabled. She noted the frailty of life and her resolve to care for others regardless of age and circumstance. She began her essay with this sentence, “Most people live each day as if it were just another day, but what if people started to live like today was their last, and love like they have never loved before.” She ended her essay this way: “We only live once, and it is up to us to decide how to live and how to love the people around us. To make the world a better place no one has to do anything extraordinary; all a person must do is to give a little of himself or herself and put service above self.”