Tuesday, May 4, 2021

I don't really have the stomach to be making scholarship decisions

As some of my friends and family know, I started a scholarship last year in memory of Ray Milavec, a former Wickliffe educator, coach, administrator, and legendary PA announcer who passed away five years ago. The Ray Milavec Memorial Scholarship is intended to be given annually to a graduating senior (or seniors) from Wickliffe High School.

I had never given much thought to how scholarships are established or awarded, except for the ones my kids were up for and/or won. But now, as I look forward to handing out the second set of Milavec Scholarships at Senior Awards Day in a couple of weeks, I find myself really wishing I had more money to give.

The reason is simply that a LOT of deserving young people applied this year, and the available funds are such that, at best, we can give three $500 awards. Nine students submitted applications, and only one-third of them will walk away with money to apply to their post-secondary educations.

These nine applicantsall of whom are female, by the wayhave clearly aced the high school experience. They all have outstanding grades, are involved in a range of extracurriculars, and give back to the community in a variety of ways.

If I'm being honest, I will tell you there is virtually no difference among them. I mean, really, there's nothing that raises any of them above the pack, and I mean that in a good way. They're all great kids with bright futures.

I simply don't want to have to make this decision, but I have to, so I will. And I'm going to feel bad for those who don't win, even though I'm sure they'll all clean up at Awards Day in other ways.

There are people better suited for this job than me, and they're people who aren't afraid to make decisions and live with the consequences. Sometimes I'm like that, but not always.

Looking ahead to next year, I'm thinking about going back to the original intent of the scholarship, which is to give just one award of $1,000 to one student and call it a day. That means even more of them will be excluded.

I may also drop the interview requirement (even though I love my 15-minute FaceTime conversations with the applicants), and may even change it so that no one actually applies. Rather, I would establish a set of more well-defined criteria and work with the counselors and other school administrators to pick a student who best fits them.

Of course, even then, I'm going to walk away sad that we can't give money to every one of the 100+ young adults who graduate each year from Wickliffe.

Let me tell you, it's not easy being wishy washy.


  1. A tough decision, especially this year. I like the idea of getting the input of school staff members but wouldn't stop the FT conversations. You can get to know someone yourself AND get what others think of the senior. Also, more than one recipient is great, too, as long as more than one qualifies for your scholarship.

    1. Good thoughts all around. The two main objectives are to help deserving kids and to honor Ray's legacy, so as long as we're somehow doing both, it will work.