Rex Riley Scholarship winners from 10 years ago report in 2.6

Written by David Green.

The winners of the Kiwanis Rex Riley Scholarship from 10 years ago have taken divergent paths since graduation from Morenci Area High School. Five of the six remain in Michigan and each has done well since their scholarship helped them through school.

Morenci Kiwanis members have scheduled their annual soup and pie supper fund raiser Wednesday, Feb. 13. Meals will be served from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. A raffle for a hand-crafted bench made by Dick Kelly will bring in additional money for the scholarship fund.

Crystal Miller earned a degree in criminal justice studies from Siena Heights University. She knew then that a law enforcement career wasn’t what she was after. Something out of uniform and a little more toward undercover is what interested her.

She worked for a security company to earn money during college and her first job out of college was at a juvenile facility.

Then she found the job that caught her interest: working for a private investigation firm where she balances investigatory work with running the office.

Crystal, who now lives in Lincoln Park, expects to wrap up her work for a master’s degree in 2009. She’s studying business administration to give her a better handle on marketing and investing, but she’ll continue to devote a portion of her time to investigation work.

Julie (Vanlerburg) Alward doesn’t know what free time means. With two preschool boys—Darrin and Drew—her own job and her husband’s business, she’s a busy woman.

Julie earned a communications degree from Michigan State University, focusing on program coordination. She started working with real estate issues at Citizens Bank, but when the bank closed, she found a job with Sargents Title Company where she works in the escrow department for real estate transactions.

The Alwards live in Vernon, southwest of Flint, where they own a lawn care and snowplowing service—mostly contracting the work out to others. In addition, her husband, Derrick, has a plumbing company in nearby Durand.

Brad Turnwald earned a bachelor’s degree in organizational studies from the University of Michigan. It’s the study of how organizations operate, he said, with a focus on communication, psychology and economics rather than number crunching.

Shortly after graduation, he took a job with the Hantz Group financial services firm and he’s still there today. Brad started work as a financial advisor and now serves as site manager for the firm’s insurance division in Ann Arbor. The Ann Arbor office is the firm’s second largest, next to the headquarters in Southfield.

Brad says he still enjoys golf and basketball, just like in high school, but he plays a lot less of each.

Brad Frederick is the only one of the six who chose to stay in the Morenci area, and he’s happy to have found a career close to home.

Brad studied marketing, logistics and purchasing at Central Michigan University. There weren’t many career options in the area when he graduated and he was weighing offesr with Lear in California and Toyota in Kentucky.

Instead, he became engaged and decided to stay in the county. He found his calling when he was hired by the Gil Henry and Associates real estate company. With Gil Henry, Sr., planning to retire this year, Brad and Gil Henry, Jr., will buy the business.

Brad and his wife, Onsted native Abigail, are the parents of a daughter, Loryn.

Matt Robertson has traveled far in his 10 years out of Morenci. He headed for Western Michigan University to study business, but ended up with a degree in broadcast and cable production.

He took a job with an AM radio station in Kalamazoo, starting as a sports producer, then the afternoon show producer, and finally as a news reporter and Saturday morning news anchor.

He became a teaching assistant with the Loy Norrix High School Education for Employment radio broadcasting program for a year before studying for a master’s degree at the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

He worked briefly in North Carolina on a reality television project for WE Network, then taught television production and editing for a year at Western Kentucky University.

Now, he’s working as an executive assistant at Dreamworks Animation in Los Angeles. The stereoscopic 3D department where he works is leading the initiative to add 3D format to all animated movies starting next year.

What do you do when you’ve earned a teaching degree and you live in Michigan? Amy (McVay) McDowell’s husband, Travis, was fortunate to find a job near Flint, where the couple lives, but Amy had to look in other directions. She searched for jobs that required a teaching certificate and she came up with an interesting match: an on-line tutoring service.

At Central Michigan University she earned a certificate to teach secondary English and she’s using it in the virtual classroom. The flexible schedule has worked out well since she’s been assisting her father with health issues.

Private users can buy minutes with the tutoring service, but it’s also available at many public libraries. Students range from middle school age to college prep.

“You never know who you’re going to get next,” Amy said. “The service is really growing and it just went 24 hour.”

The self-described garage sale fanatic also set up an eBay store and she’s trying to spin some old writings together into a novel.

  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
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    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
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    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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