Rotary Awards Scholarships To Five High School Seniors

At the Rotary Club scholarship presentation on June 3 were (from left) Leslie Favre-Krogman, club president; students Hannah Schmidt, Leah Campbell, Zen Bowers, Stephen Tirpak, and Jon Francher, scholarship chair. (Not pictured: Mimi Nee.)

Five area graduating seniors were awarded scholarships by the Rotary Club of Lakewood and Rocky River at its weekly lunch meeting on June 3. Recipients include Mimi Nee, Leah Campbell, and Zen Bowers of Lakewood High School, Stephen Tirpak of St. Ignatius High School, and Hannah Schmidt of Saint Joseph Academy.

Each will receive $3,000 Donald W. Strang, Jr. Scholarship awards from the Lakewood-Rocky River Rotary Foundation. This $15,000 scholarship program is part of nearly $78,000 that the local Rotary Club donates to community programs each year.

In addition to demonstrating academic achievement and potential, these five Rotary scholarship winners were chosen for their character, as well as extracurricular and community involvement.

Having immigrated to the U.S. just 10 years ago, Mimi Nee’s discovery that she could excel in advanced placement language classes inspired her to seek to become the first in her family to attend college. She accumulated over 100 hours of community service as her way of giving back to a community that supported her family in their adjustment to this country.

Mimi served four years on Lakewood’s Student Council and was active in LHS’s Help 2 Others program. She was recognized for her sportsmanship in volleyball and lacrosse. She will attend The Ohio State University to study health sciences, aiming to become a physician’s assistant.

Leah Campbell is an accomplished woodwind player for Lakewood High School and the Cleveland Youth Wind Symphony. She ran cross-country and track, volunteered with the Help 2 Others program, and was co-president of the History Club, expanding its reach beyond the school to the Lakewood Public Library.

The scholarship interview team was impressed by her work in a program called “Trout in the Classroom” that raised baby Rainbow trout at school, then released 118 of them into the Rocky River. She received the Gold Award from the Girl Scouts because of the recycling program she initiated at her school. Leah will attend The Ohio State University to study environmental engineering.

Zen Bowers was captain of the Lakewood High School swim team and volunteered for the Help 2 Others service program. To help break down cultural barriers, Zen established a “Tea Club” at their school where participants learned about various tea cultures around the world while drinking tea from that region.

As early as fourth grade, she felt a commitment to protecting the natural environment, inspired by popular conservationist Steve Irwin. To help curb the effects of climate change, Zen is planning on pursuing the study of forestry, fisheries and wildlife at The Ohio State University.

Saint Joseph Academy graduate Hannah Schmidt has worked to develop an international perspective. She spent time last summer at the U.S./Mexico border on a school-sponsored service/learning trip where she connected with migrants and community advocates to learn about immigration justice.

The summer before that she was part of the U.S. State Department’s Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program, traveling the U.S. with 35 Iraqi students. Hannah volunteered as a tutor and childcare provider at the Hope Center for Refugees and Immigrants, as well as through her school’s Benedict Joseph Labre Ministry. To continue developing the ability to connect with strangers through compassion and service, Hannah will study social work at Loyola University Chicago.

St. Ignatius High School graduate Stephen Tirpak has a head for science and a heart for compassion. In addition to playing lacrosse and football and serving in student government, Stephen immersed himself in two of his school’s outreach ministries. He took part in their Pallbearer Ministry, providing company, comfort, and dignity in instances where there are few if any family or friends to grieve someone’s death.

Through the St. Benedict Joseph Labre Ministry, every week he delivered supplies and developed friendships with people living on the streets. For two years he’s been part of a work-study program at NASA Glenn, and will continue that work studying aerospace engineering at the University of Notre Dame.

The local Rotary club is part of Rotary International, a worldwide organization of more than 1.2 million business, professional, and community leaders. Members of Rotary clubs (known as Rotarians) provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world.

There are 33,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas. Clubs are nonpolitical, nonreligious, and open to all cultures, races, and creeds. As signified by the motto "Service Above Self," Rotary’s main objective is service – in the community, in the workplace, and throughout the world. To learn more, visit

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Volume 20, Issue 12, Posted 1:36 AM, 06.19.2024