Thirteen winners from eight high schools in Gratiot, Isabella and Montcalm counties were the winners of the Alma College Community Engagement Scholarship award this year.
The ACE program rewards students for their active volunteer service and involvement in their schools and local communities.
In past years, the ACE program has awarded students from Gratiot County or Gratiot County high schools.
This year, the program’s eligibility was expanded, allowing students from Isabella and Montcalm counties the chance to enter. Students who won ACE scholarships received full scholarships to attend Alma College, beginning in fall 2022.
“We were so pleased this year to expand eligibility of the ACE scholarship pool to Gratiot, Isabella and Montcalm counties, which resulted in a record number of entrants,” said Andrew Pomerville, director of the Center for College and Community Engagement (3CE) at Alma College.
“We can’t wait to see what these academically successful and highly involved students do when they get to campus at Alma College.
“These students, who are already local to the mid-Michigan area, will have many opportunities to continue doing work to benefit their areas, while growing as native students and human beings. We are so happy to offer them the opportunity to pursue their education goals at Alma College, where they will be prepared for leadership opportunities and a rewarding career.”
Community service is a major component of the ACE Scholars Program. It not only rewards community involvement that students demonstrate in high school, it supports continuing community service and leadership.
During their four years at Alma College, the scholars will volunteer with local agencies, serve as community engagement ambassadors, attend workshops and professional development conferences and participate in service/leadership student organizations.
This year’s recipients represent the fifth class of ACE Scholars, bringing the total number of recipients from Gratiot County to 51 students. Each ACE Scholar has been awarded full-tuition scholarships, inclusive of institutional, state and federal aid.
Alex Bates, an Alma High School senior, combines academics with athletics. He was an academic all-state football player and named second-team all-conference in golf. He was also involved with Student Council, Above the Influence, Youth Advisory Council, Alma Sports Boosters, and the Alma Police Athletic League. After college, he plans to pursue a career in industrial or mechanical engineering. He is the son of Stacy and Tim Bates of Alma.
Owen Blackport, a senior at Carson-City Crystal High School, plans to pursue a career in sports broadcasting and journalism after high school. His most inspiring high school teacher is Michael Porter, because of the way “he relates his early years of life” with students. Blackport stays active by delivering food to those in need, tutoring and helping out at recess. He is the son of Tammie Blackport and Tim Swore.
Leah Chvojka, a senior at St. Louis High School, was the executive president of her school’s Student Council. She was also inspired in the Academy of Performing Arts (APA) dance studio in Alma. She said her most inspiring teacher was the late Kathy Francis, who taught at APA, because Chvojka took classes at APA since age 4 and Francis “always pushed me to do better.” After college, Chvojka plans to pursue a career as an elementary school teacher. Her parents are Nicki and Jeff Crandall, of Clarksville, Tennessee, and Joe Chvojka, of Elwell.
Kaitriss DeGroft, a senior at Chippewa Hills High School, has stayed active by participating in National Honor Society and volunteering at school concession stands, tutoring elementary school students and coordinating blood drives. Her most inspiring high school teacher is Gabrielle Bass, because she inspired DeGroft to continue her performing arts career after high school. After college, DeGroft plans to pursue a career as a video producer. She is the daughter of Miranda and Kelley DeGroft of Lake Isabella.
Wyatt Ervin, a senior at Mt. Pleasant High School, was most inspired by Jerome VanOrman, “because he made learning history and law fun and interesting,” and he helped motivate Ervin “in the classroom and on the football field.” Ervin was a first-team all-conference football player who volunteered at youth football and basketball camps. After graduating from college, he plans to pursue a career in finance. He is the son of Penny and Rick Ervin of Mt. Pleasant.
Evan Litwiller, a senior at Ashley High School, has stayed active by decorating for the Ashley Country Christmas,ing at blood drives and food pantries, and volunteering in National Honor Society, Student Council, and the basketball and baseball teams. His most inspiring teacher is Adrian Cervini, because he pushed Litwiller “non-stop to do better.” After college, Litwiller plans to pursue a career in sports medicine. He is the son of Gwendolyn and Larry Litwiller of Bannister.
Bonnie Lord, an Alma High School senior, says she wants “to make a difference” in the world after college, which is why she intends to major in environmental studies. While in high school, she was co-chair of the National Honor Society Service Committee, where she helped on several food distributions, card-making for nursing homes and free tutoring. Her most inspiring high school teacher is Kristina Eggenberger. She is the daughter of Shannon and Steve Lord of Alma.
Tss Lord, an Alma High School senior, was a secretary in the Gay-Straight Alliance, historians of the College Club, and re-painted the Alma High School sign. They were awarded “Panther in the Spotlight” and received two academic achievement certificates. After college, they plan to pursue a career as a freelance artist. Their parents are Shannon and Steve Lord of Alma.
Matt Oswald, a senior at Beal City High School, plans to pursue a career in business management or education after college. His most inspiring high school teacher is Griffin Bohannon, because “he is very passionate about the success of his students.” Oswald is involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and the National Technical Honor Society. He is the son of Jenny and Justin Oswald of Beal City.
Zach Prince, a senior at Tri County High School, stays active through 4-H, Student Council, National Honor Society, Odyssey of the Mind and his local church youth group. He is an academic all-state and all-conference football player. After college, he plans to pursue a career in secondary education. He is the son of MaDonna and David Princer of Howard City.
Mason Stambaugh, a senior at Alma High School, plans to major in business at Alma College, and use his degree to pursue a career in business management and/or finance. He was a member of the National Honor Society and Youth for Christ, as well as a volunteer sports coach. His most inspiring high school teacher was Kristi Lippert, because “her courses and teaching style inspire him to learn and excel in her classroom.” He is the son of Jennifer and Brad Stambaugh.
Kimberly Wilson, an Alma High School senior, earned varsity letters in academics, band, tennis and bowling. She was involved in National Honor Society and Student Council. After college, she would like to pursue a career as a physicist. She is the daughter of Janet and Rockey Wilson of Shepherd.
Jenna Wirt, a senior at Ashley High School, has stayed active by participating in National Honor Society, Student Council and Above the Influence. She is also an athlete who plays cross country, volleyball, basketball and softball. After college, she plans on becoming a social worker. Her most inspiring teacher is Joe Shaw, because he helped guide her to where she is today. She is the daughter of Dawn and Elton Wirt of Ashley.