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Vienna Women’s Club Hands Out Scholarships to Local Students

Three recipients receive $1,000 each to help with college expenses.

Vienna Women’s Club scholarship recipients for 2012 are Alia Bayatti, Courtney Vereide and Helen Li.

Vienna Women’s Club scholarship recipients for 2012 are Alia Bayatti, Courtney Vereide and Helen Li. Photo by Donna Manz.

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Joining the 2012 Vienna Women’s Club scholarship winners are club president Diane Abel, education committee chairman Cindy Stewart, Fairfax County School Board chairman Jane Strauss, VWC scholarship chairman Jo-Lynn Westlund and Virginia Delegate Mark Keam, representing Vienna.

For 50 years, the Vienna Women’s Club [VWC] has recognized outstanding academic and community achievement with its annual scholarship awards going to deserving local high school students. On May 16, the club gave out three $1,000 scholarship checks to graduating seniors representing three area high schools. The four elementary schools located within the Town of Vienna boundaries received grants of $500 each to be used for the schools’ remedial programs dedicated to at-risk students.

Alia Bayatti, George C. Marshall High School – IB program; Helen Li, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology; and Courtney Vereide, James Madison High School – music honor society president, accepted checks from VWC scholarship chair Jo-Lynn Westlund.

Vienna ES, Marshall Road ES, Louise Archer ES and Cunningham Park welcomed the grants that will be used, primarily, for the schools’ summer reading programs.

Fairfax County School Board Chairman Jane Strauss offered inspiring insights on the "special" attributes of the millennial generation, counting among those attributes as the "most-protected" institutionally of any previous generation. "We have faith in you, go on and be successful," said Strauss, calling the scholarships the wind beneath their wings.

"I think, as you are growing, you will be institution-builders again," said Strauss.

The scholarship winners share some common characteristics. They all take challenging classes and participate in community service.

Alia Bayatti takes seven IB (International Baccalaureate) classes this year, worked during the school year and volunteers working with children with special needs. Her ultimate goal is to become a doctor like her grandfather is, working in less-economically developed nations. She plans on attending George Mason University this fall.

Helen Li volunteers at a nursing home, coaches Vienna Youth Soccer and speaks English, Chinese and French. She believes, as her fellow recipients do, that it is important to "give back to the community." Helen wants to go into government work so she can give voice to those without voices. She will begin her college career at William and Mary come August.

Courtney Vereide, going on to Elon College, is the second child in her family to receive the VWC’s scholarship. She is active in theatre and Madison Madrigals, and is president of James Madison High School’s newest honor society, the music honor society.

One 2011 scholarship recipient, Alex Court, spoke of her first year of college and the gratitude she extends to the Vienna community for its support.

"I am just amazed by these students," Westlund said.