Kiwanis-Rex Riley winners from 10 years ago 02.02.10

Written by David Green.

As the second Wednesday of February approaches—the day of the Rex Riley-Kiwanis Soup and Pie fund-raiser—the Observer takes a look back at the scholarship winners from 10 years ago.

In 2000, seven Morenci graduates received financial help from the scholarship fund.

Lynette VanBrandt Black—The class valedictorian earned a degree in environmental science from Calvin College. She led environmental education programs for children through adults while serving as an Americorp worker for two years.

The job included some habitat restoration projects and Lynette says she learned a lot during her two years.

She married Grant Black and he landed a job teaching at Indiana University, South Bend. Lynette began working for the Soil and Water Conservation District office in Eklhart, but she gave it up before her first child was born.

“That’s my new job,” she said.

She’s hoping to take part in volunteering opportunities when she’s able and she and her husband remain active in various church ministries.

Ashley Phebus—The class salutatorian attended Defiance College and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and criminal justice. While a student, she worked as a security guard at Sauder Woodworking and remained at Sauder until 2005 when she was hired by Paulding County Job and Family Services as an ongoing caseworker Children's Services.

“I worked directly with families who had been identified as having issues of neglect and/or abuse in the home,” she explained.

In 2008 she took a position as a Corrections Officer at the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio, then became probation officer with the Defiance County Juvenile Probation Office in 2009.

She’s also nearing the end of a master’s degree in criminal justice administration through Tiffin College.

She’s hoping to find a job offering more administrative/supervisory dutieAs the second Wednesday of February approaches—the day of the Rex Riley-Kiwanis Soup and Pie fund-raiser—the Observer takes a look back at the scholarship winners from 10 years ago.

In 2000, seven Morenci graduates received financial help from the scholarship fund.

LYNETTE VanBRANDT BLACK—The class valedictorian earned a degree in environmental science from Calvin College. She led environmental education programs for children through adults while serving as an Americorp worker for two years.

The job included some habitat restoration projects and Lynette says she learned a lot during her two years.

She married Grant Black and he landed a job teaching at Indiana University, South Bend. Lynette began working for the Soil and Water Conservation District office in Eklhart, but she gave it up before her first child was born.

“That’s my new job,” she said.

She’s hoping to take part in volunteering opportunities when she’s able and she and her husband remain active in various church ministries.

ASHLEY PHEBUS—The class salutatorian attended Defiance College and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and criminal justice. While a student, she worked as a security guard at Sauder Woodworking and remained at Sauder until 2005 when she was hired by Paulding County Job and Family Services as an ongoing caseworker Children's Services.

“I worked directly with families who had been identified as having issues of neglect and/or abuse in the home,” she explained.

In 2008 she took a position as a Corrections Officer at the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio, then became probation officer with the Defiance County Juvenile Probation Office in 2009.

She’s also nearing the end of a master’s degree in criminal justice administration through Tiffin College.

She’s hoping to find a job offering more administrative/supervisory duties—something located in a warmer climate.

MOLLY McDOWELL—Molly studied art and education at Siena Heights University and was hired to serve as the junior and senior high art teacher in Reading, Mich.

Budget cuts resulted in a layoff so Molly started graduate work, with plans to earn a master’s degree in special education.

“Optimism is one of my strengths,” she said, “so I must point out that being laid off has given me the wonderful experience of being a stay-at-home mom.”

She and her husband Brian Shaffer, have two children: a daughter, Rowan, 3 -1/2, and a son, Beau, 2-1/2.

“They enjoy the luxury of every day being a ‘snow day’ with mom,” she said.

The family moved from Wauseon to Morenci about a year ago and Molly says the community has everything a toddler could want, between the park, library and Rex.

“I would like to thank the Rex Riley Foundation for the belief they showed in me 10 years ago, and I promise them that I am actively seeking work that will put my education to good use.”

CARRIE MORAN HARSH—Carrie earned an  associate’s degree from Northwest State Community College in applied science as a registered nurse and now works as a charge nurse on the oncology floor at Flower Hospital.

“I have specialized in chemotherapy and oncology and have many certifications including advanced cardiac life support, chemotherapy and biotherapy administration and heart monitoring,” she said, “and I am on the Rapid Response Team.

She has been married to Chuck Harsh for seven years and they have a 3-year-old, Lauren.  Another baby will be arriving in August.

“I continue to live in Morenci and attend Morenci First Baptist Church,” she said. “My future plans include going back to school to become a nurse practitioner specializing in oncology.”

No response was received from Aaron Hughes, Joel Erway and Valerie Kruse.

VALERIE KRUSE—Valerie Kruse attended Central Michigan University for two and one-half years before transferring to Washtenaw Community College to obtain a degree in nursing.

“I am currently a registered nurse with hopes of returning to either Eastern Michigan University or Kent State University this spring to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing.”

Valerie works at the Veteran’s Hospital in Ann Arbor and lives in Tecumseh, althgough she hopes to soon purchase a house in Adrian.

AARON HUGHES—After earning a bachelor’s degree in zoology from Michigan State University, Aaron began work as a veterinary technician. He’s also attending to classes at MSU to earn a teaching degree for high school biology.

“My future plans are to find a job as a high school biology teacher, go on lots of hiking/backpacking trips all over the U.S., and possibly create a wildlife sanctuary for injured/old animals.”

He’s enjoying life in East Lansing, but he would like to migrate to a warmer climate in the future.s—something located in a warmer climate.

Molly McDowell—Molly studied art and education at Siena Heights University and was hired to serve as the junior and senior high art teacher in Reading, Mich.

Budget cuts resulted in a layoff so Molly started graduate work, with plans to earn a master’s degree in special education.

“Optimism is one of my strengths,” she said, “so I must point out that being laid off has given me the wonderful experience of being a stay-at-home mom.”

She and her husband Brian Shaffer, have two children: a daughter, Rowan, 3 -1/2, and a son, Beau, 2-1/2.

“They enjoy the luxury of every day being a ‘snow day’ with mom,” she said.

The family moved from Wauseon to Morenci about a year ago and Molly says the community has everything a toddler could want, between the park, library and Rex.

“I would like to thank the Rex Riley Foundation for the belief they showed in me 10 years ago, and I promise them that I am actively seeking work that will put my education to good use.”

Carrie Moran Harsh—Carrie earned an  associate’s degree from Northwest State Community College in applied science as a registered nurse and now works as a charge nurse on the oncology floor at Flower Hospital.

“I have specialized in chemotherapy and oncology and have many certifications including advanced cardiac life support, chemotherapy and biotherapy administration and heart monitoring,” she said, “and I am on the Rapid Response Team.

She has been married to Chuck Harsh for seven years and they have a 3-year-old, Lauren.  Another baby will be arriving in August.

“I continue to live in Morenci and attend Morenci First Baptist Church,” she said. “My future plans include going back to school to become a nurse practitioner specializing in oncology.”

No response was received from Aaron Hughes, Joel Erway and Valerie Kruse.

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