Eight local area businesses are helping make the dream of a college education a reality for two high school seniors. Thanks to their generosity, each student received a $10,000 In Hope Freedom Rings Foundation (IHFR) scholarship.
The scholarship recipients are: Hanan Awel from Robert E. Lee High School and Elizabeth Knippler from Chantilly High School. Syuperintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools Dr. Jack Dale presented the awards. In addition, Steve Gerry, representing U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly’s District office presented each student with a copy of the Congressional Record that mentions their award.
This is the seventh year that the foundation has awarded the college scholarships. The event was held on Jan. 25 at the Waterford in Springfield.
The sponsoring businesses are: Burke Centre Automotive for the third year; CouponToGo.com for six years; Cropp-Metcalfe Services for four years; Hadeed Oriental Rug and Carpet Cleaning for four years; Papa John’s Pizza for six years; Ross Tree for one year; Springfield Lorton Dental Group for four years and Virginia Tire & Auto for six years.
One school counselor described Hanan as "special — not only because of her exceptional writing or reading skills, but more importantly because of her passion for learning and growth." A teacher’s recommendation added that she is "an exceptional, genuine, dedicated and a creative, deep thinker and synthesizer. She is respected for her superiority in studies, leadership and accomplishment in activities, interest in other students, responsibility, personality, and manners."
While excelling in high level courses, Hanan is a leader in activities and community service. She founded and is currently president of Operation Smile, a community service club that raises awareness and funds for people in developing countries who suffer from facial deformities.
She is also a published author. Her poetry and essays have appeared in Teen Ink and Troubadour Magazines and A Celebration of Poets. Hanan is a member and secretary of the National Honor Society, member and secretary of the Spanish Honor Society, the historian of the Ecology Club, a member of the Math Honor Society and Science Society and Senior Math and Science teams.
Elizabeth, also known as Lizzy, is described by a teacher as "the kind of student who will take every opportunity to better herself so that she may later better her community and the world." Her school counselor writes that "It’s not enough to complete her (school) work, which she finds easy, but to go beyond the published rubric. It’s not enough for her to make her teachers happy by meeting high requirements, but to meet hers. Academics are important to Elizabeth beyond grades, because she goes beyond what she will be tested on."
As part of her community service she spent the summer in Guatemala where she worked at an orphanage spending time with children who were destitute, abused, and abandoned. As a result of this experience, she is considering a career in global health. Lizzy attended the Virginia Governor’s School for Math, Science & Technology and plays the French horn in the school symphony. She also received the Randolph College Book Award for Academic Excellence and Leadership Potential.
She is very active in her community and volunteers in several programs at the St. John Neumann Catholic Church. Lizzy successfully competed in outdoor and indoor track at the district and regional levels throughout high school, receiving the Coach's Award for both indoor and outdoor track.
The Foundation was started seven years ago by local business owner, Margo R. Friedman, a former school teacher. Her dream was to help young people continue their education. Over the years the foundation has awarded $130,000 in scholarships to college bound students attending Fairfax County high schools.