The Salem Educational Foundation & Alumni Association (SEFAA), launched in 1983, was created to support Salem students as they transition from high school to an accredited educational institution. Last month, SEFAA board members awarded scholarships, totaling more than $170,000, to 110 area students who will be attending college in the fall.
Recipients were selected partly based on their academic record. Some scholarships were need based while others were merit based. Natalie Valentine was elated after finding out she was one of the students chosen. Free-Hardeman University, located in Henderson, Tennessee, is where Valentine will further her education.
“I chose Freed because it’s a small Christian university where I can receive my education while also growing closer to God,” Valentine said. “I want to be a television news journalist, as well as a photographer. Journalism and photography allow me to capture life’s special moments and tell people’s stories.”
Abbi Mowbray will be a freshman at Radford University in the fall. The 2018 Salem High graduate is beyond excited about starting the next chapter of her life.
“I have spent the past 12 years preparing for this next phase, and now I am here,” Mowbray said before adding, “Whatever I major in, ultimately I would like to work with children in some capacity.”
Lily Barnes, who is scheduled to attend James Madison University in the fall, hasn’t decided on a major yet.
“I’m currently going in without a major because I’m not 100 percent set on what I want to do yet. When I think of college, I get most excited about meeting new people and all the new relationships I’m going to form,” Barnes said. “My dream profession is anything that would allow me to travel a lot, meet diverse people and make a direct difference in the world. There’s not many other things that I would want to spend my life doing.”
Helping teenagers reach their goals is a passion of Tommy McDonald. The SEFAA President remembers being a former Salem High school student and trying to gather as much information as possible before making a definitive decision.
“Over the last 35 years, we have helped over 3,500 students get scholarship money for college,” McDonald said. “The monetary amount given out is close to four million dollars.”
Said fellow board member Christine Poarch, “Our scholarships are as diverse as our students’ paths, and we are proud of the support multiple family and individual donors offer our local scholars by endowing scholarships.”
Education has always been a priority for Mariana Schreders, and the Salem native doesn’t expect that to change once she arrives on the campus of James Madison University.
“I chose JMU because of their focus on community involvement, service and student success. It’s a beautiful school, and the undergraduate and graduate programs for my major are really great,” Schreders said. “I really want to make a difference in people’s lives who struggle with speech. Communication is such an important part of life, and I’m excited to take part in becoming that change.”