When the COVID-19 pandemic threatened to derail the chapter's annual scholarship award ceremony, members got creative and reached a larger audience than in previous years.
Instead of holding its traditional large banquet, where space would limit attendance to only parents, grandparents, faculty and civic leaders, the chapter brought the event to a vast audience. The extraordinary effort involved two live events, each highlighting the tremendous academic achievements of 12 seniors and the mentoring efforts of eight teachers for audiences throughout the ArkLaTex.
At the first event, the chapter recognized the students and teachers during a live broadcast by local television station, KTBS. Rick Rowe, a local television personality, hosted the event at the Cyber Innovation Center, one of the area's preeminent locations for technological collaboration amongst government, private industry and academia.
The theme for this first event was "The Best and Brightest." During the live broadcast, the 12 students walked away with a check for $2,000 each. Three teachers took home $2,000, and the remaining five earned $1,000 each through the generosity and support of local individuals and national sponsors, some of them giants in aviation.
None of this would have been possible without the tremendous support received from the local community, including Julie Anne's Bakery, who provided refreshments at 4 a.m.
In addition to the cash presentation, each student gave remarks on their respective academic journeys, plans for the future, and goals to be trailblazers.
The second event was the virtual scholarship presentation held via Zoom. Camille Schrier, Miss America 2020, served as the guest speaker. She spoke of challenges in her academic and personal life as she pursued her passion for science and her dream of becoming a pharmacist.
Known for her love of science, the doctoral student encouraged the audience to pursue their academic and professional dreams. "Miss America can be a scientist, and a scientist can be Miss America," said Schrier, addressing the live audience.
Chapter leadership (from l-r) David Richards, chapter vice president of education, Rowe, KTBS 3, David Stuart, second executive vice president; Brandi Pickett, chapter secretary; Capt. Kebin Umodu, USAF, chapter executive vice president; and Barbara Schleben, chapter vice president of scholarships, pose with Rowe after another successful scholarship and grant presentation.