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2016 Scholarship Winners

Congratulations to the 2016 Scholars

The BECU Foundation recognizes and awards scholarships each year to graduating high school seniors and undergraduates who have a passion for helping others. Since 1995, BECU has awarded more than $2.2 million in scholarships to 950 student members.

The 2016 student leaders who earned scholarships this year have demonstrated their commitment to service, and we are honored to help them pursue their educations. 

As a not-for-profit cooperative credit union steeped in values and guided by principles, we focus not how much profit we can extract from others, but on how much we can invest in our members and youth, so they can invest in their own futures. 

It is only fitting that each scholarship we award is based on the philosophy of our cooperative principles of social responsibility.

Scholarships recognize individual contribution toward the greater good. Applications are judged on students' academic achievement, leadership potential, and community involvement. We received just under 1,000 application essays this year, which a dedicated committee of local community, business and education leaders read in order to select the final recipients.

The 80 students who were awarded scholarships are an impressive group of outstanding citizens.  

The students are attending colleges all over the country. They are our future doctors, teachers, business leaders, social workers and artists. Their service projects ranged from tutoring their fellow students to funding birthday parties for underprivileged children to brain research to doing non-profit work in Nicaragua and Madagascar. 

Alexa Landis created the Fairy Godmother Project and collected prom outfits for girls who wouldn't otherwise be able to afford the dance. Eilish McLean spends three hours every week at Franciscan Hospice, caring for and entertaining hospice patients. Leah Shin founded Literacy for Love, which has collected over 6,000 books to date and put them in the hands of those who need them most, including ELL students, low-income families, and underprivileged communities. Christian Knutson helped create a garden seating area for the elderly residents of the Wesley Home's community. 

The tales of service, dedication and inspired work go on and on. 

On Thursday, July 15, we gathered at Safeco Field to celebrate all that these students have done and all that they will do in the future. Along with parents and other guests of the students, members of the Volunteer Scholarship Selection Committee, the BECU leadership team, and the BECU Volunteer Board of Directors attended. 

“I feel blessed and honored that I get to make a life by giving back to so many of you. You are obviously already on the path to making an extraordinary life, as evidenced by the amount of volunteer work you are all doing and the impact you are making in our community,” said Debbie Wege, Executive Director of the BECU Foundation. “It is not only humbling to see such commitment and contribution, it gives me and all of us a sense of wonderful hope for our future.”

Rick Rizzs, Mariners Broadcast Announcer, acted as Master of Ceremonies for the morning. And Lee Rhodes, founder of glassybaby, was our esteemed guest speaker.

Both speakers touched on the great opportunities and challenges that await the students as they make their way through the world. 

Rick Rizzs spoke about his single-minded devotion to becoming a major league broadcast announcer, and his absolute conviction that he wouldn't make his college baseball team – but his determination drove him to show up every day, and at the end of three weeks of tryouts, he got his uniform. He was so proud he slept in it.

“That was my goal. To get here. I'm telling you, I'm living my dream. This is my office,” he told the assembled guests, gesturing to the waiting baseball field behind him. “You're going to go all over the country. I came here, and I love this community. You will do the same wherever you light.”

Lee Rhodes, founder of glassybaby, also spoke about contributing to the community that you will find waiting for you – even when your destination is unexpected. She spoke about being diagnosed with cancer as a young mother and spending hours in the chemotherapy waiting room. A group of patients all end up sitting together, week in and week out, she explained, on the same chemo schedule. But she watched as people dropped out of the treatment because they couldn't pay for parking, or didn't have people to help take care of their children the way that Lee did. 

The experience, combined with the immense sense of hope and healing she felt one night when lighting a votive in a hand-blown glass vessel made by the family, inspired Lee to start glassybaby. Glassybaby makes artisan glass vessels in a fantastic spectrum of colors. All vessels are made here in Seattle and in glassybaby's newly opened shop in Berkley. All packing is made in the US. And 10% of every sale goes to support a social cause that Lee believes in. 

Glassybaby's first donations went to the cancer patients at the hospital where Lee was treated. From now until August 31, any vessel purchased with the code becu  will benefit the BECU Foundation. 

“Thousands of people are making a difference in the world on a small scale. I call all of us experimentors. What you do with your experiments individually and collectively is what makes a difference,” said Lee. 

Glassybaby is giving away their 5 millionth dollar in a week. That's about 1,463,000 glassbabys out in the world doing good work. Lee may have started small, selling out of her garage to friends and family, but her impact has grown exponentially.

“You'll be helping to solve some big problems and some big challenges. We'll need big visions with open hearts and strong spirits. I'm so proud to be part of celebrating you,” she said to the students.

As if to demonstrate what Lee meant by big visions, the students and their projects were then individually recognized. Rick Rizzs called each name into the microphone, as if he were announcing a starting lineup. He started with the all-stars: those who received the top scores on their essays by the selection committee. 

The top-scoring high school student of this year, and M.Bud Jewell Memorial Award Winner, is Maggie Ugelsted, who volunteered as a caretaker for a student with celebral palsy. Maggie helped involve and integrate her fellow student into their high school community, even helping her become the school's water polo team manager.

The BECU Board Recognition Award, given in honor to Mike Sweeney this year, goes to Janelle Gibson, who volunteered at Camp Promise, a camp for kids, teens, and adults with muscular dystrophy.

The Gary Oakland Scholarship Award goes to Macey Bishop, who volunteered on a mission trip to help families in Nicaragua. 

Every one of the students' projects demonstrated kindness, a willingness to work hard, and the desire to contribute to their communities. 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has,” said Margaret Mead.

Our thanks are due to these students for changing the world. 

We would also like to thank the parents, guardians and special guests who accompanied the students.  Your support, guidance and dedication is evidenced in the remarkable examples set by your children.  Thank you for all you do to guide these students to be the kind of citizens they currently are, and will most certainly continue to be.  

From July 15 to August 31st, 2016, glassybaby sales will support BECU Foundation scholarships. Just enter giving code becu upon checkout and 10% from your online purchase will be donated to the BECU Foundation. 

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2016 Scholarship Recipients

Learn more about the BECU Foundation