Mary Anne Graney Scholarship
Arc GLOW Announces Mary Anne Graney
Memorial Scholarship Recipients
Seniors from Livonia, Pembroke, Oakfield-Alabama and Alexander Central Schools are the recipients of the 2022 Mary Anne Graney Memorial Scholarships administered by Arc GLOW. The $1,000 scholarship award winners, Kelsey Stewart, Kyle Verdaasdonk, Jenna Gilbert and Gavin Smith-Crandall (pictured above) are planning to pursue careers related to healthcare or working with people with disabilities.
Kelsey Stewart, Livonia Central School, will attend Elmira College to study special education. Kelsey’s interest in becoming a special educator emerged after joining the T.I.E.S club at school. T.I.E.S. (Together Including Every Student) is a club that seeks to integrate children with special needs by attending school and community events with them. This led to Kelsey volunteering in a special education classroom and in an adaptive physical education class. At Livonia Central Kelsey is also Class Secretary, a member of National Honor Society and played JV and Varsity soccer, basketball and lacrosse. In her scholarship application, Kelsey shared, “I hope to see a day where there is no longer a need for a club to allow students of differing abilities to be a bigger part of their community --- because they have become so integral that there is no question they belong.”
Kyle Verdaasdonk - Pembroke Central, will attend Genesee Community College to pursue his teacher assistant degree with a concentration in developmental disabilities. Kyle is a member of the Pembroke Dragons Unified Bowling and Basketball teams, assisting athletes on and off the court. He is also a volunteer in a special education classroom and is described by the classroom teacher as a great motivator and positive role model. In his scholarship application Kyle said each student has a unique and inspiring personality. “The whole experience has had an amazing impact on me – so much so, that I want to make this my career,” he said. At Pembroke, Kyle has also participated in track and soccer, is a member of high school chorus and his church youth group.
Jenna Gilbert – Oakfield-Alabama Central, has been accepted to SUNY Brockport to study nursing, with plans to continue her education to become a pediatric nurse practitioner. Jenna has volunteered for YMCA Challenger Sports, Arc GLOW’s Friends & Family 5K, Down Syndrome Parent Support Group, learn to swim programs and for her town’s local clothing and food pantry. A member of Genesee Valley BOCES Health Careers Academy, Jenna is also a member of National Honor Society, Varsity Club and the Hornets softball and swim teams. She is a certified lifeguard and has certifications in first aid, CPR and AED. In her scholarship personal essay, she said besides her experience with people with a variety of disabilities through her volunteer work, she is fortunate to have grown up with a cousin, two friends and classmates with Down syndrome. “Having them in my life has truly been a gift, and help shape me into the person I am today,” Jenna said.
Gavin Smith-Crandall – Alexander Central, has his sights set on becoming a speech therapist, and will begin his studies at Genesee Community College. A member of the Trojans football and wrestling team, Gavin also studies Auto Body Trade at Genesee Valley BOCES and works for his grandfather’s construction business. In his scholarship application Gavin shared a story of a family member born with a traumatic brain injury and as a child could not communicate. With the help of speech therapy, he is now able to talk. Gavin’s career choice of helping people with disabilities was also influenced by his mother, Molly, who has worked at Arc GLOW since Gavin was a toddler. “Through my Mom, I learned that people with disabilities want the same things as people without disabilities. They want to feel valued, listened to and that they matter…they want jobs, friends, family and fun things to do in the community,” he said, adding, “If I could help a family learn to communicate with a loved one, it would mean the world to me.”
About the Mary Anne Graney Memorial Scholarship
Now in its 17th year, the Mary Anne Graney Memorial Scholarship is presented to area high school seniors planning to further their studies in human services, special education or related fields. It is in honor of Mary Anne Graney, a special education teacher, who died in 2004. The scholarship is funded by the Friends & Family 5k, scheduled this year for September 17 in Elba. In all, 55 scholarships have been awarded since 2006 to local high school students. The scholarships will be presented to recipients at their upcoming school scholarship programs.