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Published: Tuesday, 6/5/2001

Allen County Rotary scholars have taken nontraditional path

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

LIMA, Ohio - Nine of the 10 recipients of Rotary Club scholarships awarded yesterday did not fit the typical profile of a high school graduate heading off to college. Some were accompanied by their parents when they received the award while others were with their spouse or children.

Karen Sneary graduated from Shawnee High School in 1966. Now, she's working on an associate degree in accounting at Lima Technical College.

Marcia Cotterman, a 1968 Perry High School graduate, has worked at a local coating plant for 25 years but wants to become a nurse.

Cathy Corcoran has been out of high school for 19 years and wants to finish her bachelor's degree in business.

All the recipients are Allen County residents who want to further their education in Allen County, live, and work here.

“Very often, these scholarships just go to those with the highest grades. Here it's helping people who want to get ahead in life,” said Dick Riggs, secretary of the service club.

Grades and financial need weren't what concerned the Rotarians the most.

Applicants for the first-time $500 scholarships were asked to write an essay about how they would use the money.

“There's been a strong feeling that if we could pump more scholarship money into the local area it would certainly pay some big dividends, especially if we could keep the trained and talented people within the Lima area,” said John Gaeth, a member of the Rotarians Past Presidents Club, which started the scholarship program this year.

Mr. Gaeth said some of the applicants want to finish a degree to get ahead in their field, some want to try a new profession, while others said their children are grown and they “needed that kick start to get going.”

The sole 2001 graduate, Benjamin Wobler of Lima Senior High School, wrote that he wants to stay in the county and become the world's best auto mechanic, Mr. Gaeth said. Mr. Wobler plans to attend the University of Northwestern Ohio in Lima.

According to the scholarship guidelines, all applicants must be headed to a college or trade school in Allen County, such as Lima Technical College, Ohio State University's Lima Campus, Bluffton College, or an out-of-county university's satellite location here. Mr. Riggs said even someone entering an apprenticeship program with a local trade union would qualify.

Mr. Gaeth said the club hopes to increase the amount of scholarships as the program grows. All funds raised at a golf outing in August will be used for the scholarships, which so far have been funded by members' contributions.

He said the club still offers some scholarships to top high school graduates, “but most of those tend to go off somewhere to college and stay somewhere else. This one is twisted just with a little homegrown flavor.”



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