Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

July 14, 2011

Alice Van Gunten and local students recognized for volunteer efforts

By Lailani Upham

Ronan High School graduate Alice Van Gunten receives prestigious Gates Millennium full-ride scholarship to Washington State University in Pullman, Wash. (Courtesy photo)
Ronan High School graduate Alice Van Gunten receives prestigious Gates Millennium full-ride scholarship to Washington State University in Pullman, Wash. (Courtesy photo)

RONAN Young leaders of America are being fostered right here in the Mission Valley through serving and donating hundreds of hours of time and energy to more than a few organizations throughout the area, according to recent release from the United Way Volunteer Center.

United Way is honoring two high school graduates and one college student from the Flathead Reservation boundaries.

Ronan High School 2011 graduate Alice Van Gunten, a CSKT tribal member, who gave more than 125 community service hours to number of locally-based organizations.

Van Gunten donated time to organizations such as: the National Honor Society volunteer projects, Ronan High School Student Council, Health Occupation Students of America, Peer Mediation, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, The Boys and Girls Club, Little Dribblers and leadership roles within her own athletic activities.

Polson High School 2011 graduate Sarah Devlin, donated more than 275 community service hours in the Polson area, including Life Savers Animal Rescue, Key Club, National Honor Society volunteer projects and serving as a soccer coach for the Polson Youth Soccer Association.

Salish Kootenai College pre-nursing student Jeanette Hungerford, offered more than 800 hours of community service in the Lake County area. Hungerford included much of her off-class time to the Polson and Ronan Little Dribblers, Ronan High School boys' basketball, Highway Cleanup and the St. Luke's Community Healthcare.

Van Guten is not only honored along with Flathead local peers through outstanding volunteer efforts in the community through the United Way; she is also a Gates Millennium Scholar recipient.

Van Guten plans on attending Washington State University this fall. "My decision to attend Washington State University was finalized when I recently attended two days of summer orientation. It was two full days of workshops on how to adjust to college life, living options, student involvement, community fairs and academic success. It was a lot to take in. To say the least, it was an experience for me and my mother. As soon as we arrived there were so many students and parents, it was overwhelming. After the first day, I found out that there were 4,000 freshmen who were enrolling or transferring to WSU. By the end of orientation, I left singing the school song, a goodbye from the counselors, my Cougar Card in my hand, and was registered for my first semester of classes," Van Gunten explained.

GMS, a highly competitive scholarship selects 1,000 talented students across the nation each year to receive a good-through-graduation scholarship to use at any college or university of their choice.

Van Gunten said not long after her orientation trip she got word from the GMS scholarship officials indicating she was awarded. "They wanted me to go on-line and reject any loans to cover my cost of attendance. They said I do not need to accept any of these loans if I wanted the GMS scholarship to cover my unmet needs. My Mom just smiled at me and said, 'yes!'"

"When I receive emails from Gates I just smile. I really haven't completely comprehended what this scholarship will do for me, but what I hear from everyone, this is pretty darn great! As I grow older I will fully understand what an opportunity this has allowed me," van Gunten added.

GMS also provides their scholars with personal and professional development through leadership programs and makes available academic support throughout the student's college careers. "One of the first things they wanted me to do was register with the Gates Millennium Scholars site, it gives lots of features, discussions, events, lets you set goals and wants you to get connected with other students. I found out that I get to attend a leadership conference this fall in Los Angeles. It provides orientation for new Scholars and a chance for Alumni, mentors and freshman Scholars to engage about everything from navigating a college campus to the four Rs that are the pillars of the GMS Program: Rigor, Relevance, Responsibility and Relationships."

The scholarship has been around since 1999 and was initially funded by a $1 billion grant from Bill and Melinda Gates to provide an opportunity to African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American, and Hispanic American students with high academic promise and have a financial need. The Gates scholarship is designed to increase the representation of these groups in the computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health and science disciplines.

"It's going to be hard figuring out how much money I'll have to budget per month so I don't go broke, but I need to make sure I have enough money for any activities, and you know and foo foo stuff, well that's what my Dad says anyway," Van Gunten expressed.

The target is to diversify the future leaders of America through making sure successful completion of bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees are reached. "They encourage campus clubs and organizations because they serve as introductions to people who share my background and experiences and diverse people and cultures. They say students who get involved in campus activities earn better grades," Van Gunten said. "I'm going to get involved in intramurals. I love playing volleyball," she added.

"There is so much to do to get ready for school, so much to get and so little time. But, I am ready to see what lies in front of me, I am excited and yet a bit scared, but I know I can do this."

Van Gunten begins her fall quarter on August 22.

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