Scholarships for Local College Freshmen

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Hard work in high school quite literally paid off for 14 students from the Big Bend area.

Saturday they were each awarded a Ronald McDonald House National Scholarship ranging from $1,000 to $6,000. The students say the cash scholarships will help make their academic dreams come true.

"I'm going into pre-med, studying bio-chemistry, so I want to become a doctor. Don't know which one. I think more orthopedic than anything else," explained Alejandro Cordero, a graduate of Florida State University High School.

"I plan on attending Florida A&M in the fall, majoring in nursing, and this scholarship is going to help me out a lot with my tuition and books," added Treece Lewis, an East Gadsden High School graduate.

Ronald McDonald House Scholarships representatives say their scholarships are generally awarded to minority high school graduates who demonstrate academic merit, community service and financial or special needs.

"I will need a personal care assistant who will go around with me there, and classes, and open doors, get my books and pencils out," said Aaron Richard, who has a physical disability and uses a wheelchair.

Florida's First Lady Columba Bush has been the honorary chairperson for this scholarship program for the past few years and says she believes in the program.

"I really enjoy meeting the families, and just the students are wonderful, so it's very, very rewarding," Mrs. Bush explained.

Columba Bush says she'll miss working with the scholarship program when she and Jeb Bush leave Tallahassee after his term as governor is completed in January 2007.

The Ronald McDonald House Charities awarded a total of $46,000 in cash scholarships Saturday.