At the June 15th meeting of the Thursday Rotary Club of Hickory, Rotarian Thomas Griffis announced the winner of the 2017 Service Above Self scholarship. Darian Shekinah Abernathy is this year’s recipient of the four year college scholarship.
Thursday Rotary Club of Hickory recognizes the value of a good education. Since 2005, thirty-three students have received SAS scholarships, totaling over $217,000. SAS recipients have attended Appalachian State University, Davidson College, Duke University, East Carolina University, Furman University, Gardner Webb University, Lenoir Rhyne University, University of Alabama, University of North Carolina, University of South Carolina, and Catawba Valley Community College, among others.
As the Service Above Self scholarship winner from Hickory High School’s class of 2017, Darian will receive Rotary’s financial aid toward her college tuition. Due to the continued financial success and popularity of Rotarian Idol, the SAS scholarship was increased in 2015 from $10,000 to $12,000. The increase allows the SAS scholarship recipient to receive $3,000 per year for college costs. The total scholarship is now $12,000, payable over four years.
Thursday Rotary Club of Hickory’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 percent of their class and lead by example. During the candidate’s interviews, students are evaluated on traditional scholarship standards: grades, overall grade point average and class rank. What sets the SAS scholarship apart from many others is that each honored student must demonstrate how they serve their community.
Darian’s high school career has been an impressive mix of outstanding scholarship, leadership and service. She embodies Service Above Self, the Rotary International motto which underlies the life way for all Rotarians. During four years at Hickory High School, she served as secretary, vice president, and president of the Student Council. She was elected as Member-at-Large of the scholastically oriented Beta Club. For three years, she was a member of the Interact Club, the Rotary Club for high school students. She was the founding chairperson of The Zen Den, a HHS organization that promotes health and wellness of students through yoga and meditation. She was a starter on the state championship women’s basketball team, a cheerleader, and a lacrosse player. She attended Governor’s School with a focus on choral music. It was not unusual to see her in school musicals. One of her teachers at Hickory High School said of her, “Darian doesn’t seem wearied by her schedule, not ever. She’s full of positive energy, always smiling, always ready to enjoy another’s company, and always on…the go.”
In addition to her school activities, Darian’s service to residents of Hickory and members of her church is remarkable. She was a four year participant with Leadership 2000…and Beyond, an internship program through which Darian served with Kid Connection and Safe Harbor Rescue Mission. She was a member of the Hickory City Youth Council for four years and participated in activities such as city park clean-ups, the Soup Kitchen, and Frye Regional Medical Center holiday parties. She was a four year member of Tomorrow’s Road Leadership Program. Through this organization, she brought awareness to depression and suicide among youth and preventative programs. She was president of YAMS (Young Adults Ministry in Service), a member of the church choir, and the AMEZ (African Methodist Episcopal Zion church) executive council youth secretary. An active church member, she tended the church nursery, ushered, participated in holiday pageants, and Parents Night Out.
In her Statement of Service, required of all applicants, Darian wrote, “Everything that I do represents me and the person I strive to be. My biggest contribution to my school and community is being a positive role model and voice to and for those that feel discouraged and worthless.”
Darian will attend the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) this fall where she will study political science with an eye toward a legal or political career.
Scholarship funding is made possible by the Thursday Rotary Club of Hickory’s successful fundraising activities, including the annual Rotarian Idol competition. The Thursday Rotary Club of Hickory’s ongoing commitment of financial support continues to provide necessary educational assistance locally, and is consistent with the club’s continued commitment to and financial support of local educational initiatives.
The Thursday Rotary Club of Hickory was founded in 1921 by Watt Shuford. In adherence to Rotary’s motto of “Service Above Self,” the club has a history of giving back to the community through its primary service avenue of education. For more information about The Thursday Rotary Club of Hickory, visit www.hickoryrotary.org.