Bottom from left, Ricki Harvey, Caroline Benitah, Kathleen Wells and Judy Shah Mahanes. Top from left, Allison Grandstedt, Annette Kerlin, Mary Butcher, Roz Drayer and Laura Bumpus. Benitah, Wells and Butcher were awarded scholarships by the Great Falls Friends and Neighbors Friday, Sept. 13.
Photo by Alex McVeigh.
The Great Falls Friends and Neighbors awarded $7,500 in scholarships to four local students at their annual meeting Friday, Sept. 13.
“We raise $5,000 every year from our annual bridge jamboree, which is the bulk of the money we award,” said Allison Grandstedt, a member of the group’s scholarship committee. “The scholarships are meant to help women, mostly Northern Virginia women, who are in college or returning to college. This luncheon is always fun because we’re able to meet some of the women we’re giving scholarships to, and hear their stories.”
George Mason University students Mary Butcher and Kathleen Wells received $2,500 and Northern Virginia Community College student Kathleen Monroe received $1,500. Caroline Benitah, a student at George Mason, was also awarded the $1,000 Bette Carter Dance Scholarship.
Butcher, a resident of Manassas, is currently working on her degree in management from George Mason. She served for two years in the Air Force, and says the scholarship will allow her to graduate without any debt.
“This scholarship means more to me than words can say,” Butcher said. “I’m thrilled and honored to have been selected.”
Wells is a staff registered nurse at Reston Hospital Center and is enrolled in George Mason’s nursing program, where she has been named to the dean’s list.
“I’ve been putting myself through school for the past five years, and this is the first scholarship I’ve received,” she said. “It’s a huge relief knowing I won’t have to be worried about paying back tuition for this semester, I can focus 100 percent on school.”
Benitah, who is from Arlington, will graduate in May from George Mason with a degree in dance, a minor in business and a 3.6 GPA. She is a member of the executive board of the student-run Mason Dance Company.
“I’m so fortunate to get this scholarship, it can be a lot harder to get something like this when you’re in dance or the arts,” she said.
Benitah says after graduation she will return to Brazil, and says she plans to try out for a spot in the opening or closing ceremony for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The Great Falls Friends and Neighbors were formed two years ago when the Great Falls Women’s Club and Great Falls Neighbors joined forces.
In addition to their annual Bridge Jamboree, they host a poetry contest for local elementary school students, run a haunted house every Halloween and more.