Chamber presents scholarship to SHS grad

Published 10:11 am Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Donna C. McCullough Chamber scholarship has been awarded to Jena Araojo, valedictorian of the Southampton High School class of 2015.

The Chamber scholarship has been presented annually since 1995 to a graduating senior from the Franklin-Southampton community. In 2004, upon the retirement of Chamber Executive Director Donna McCullough, the Board of Directors renamed this scholarship in her honor citing her support in promoting community partnerships and education at all levels.

Jena Araojo receives the Donna C. McCullough Chamber scholarship from Kim Williams of EVB. Araojo graduated this past June from Southampton High School, and is going to The College of William and Mary this fall. -- SUBMITTED

Jena Araojo receives the Donna C. McCullough Chamber scholarship from Kim Williams of EVB. Araojo graduated this past June from Southampton High School, and is going to The College of William and Mary this fall. — SUBMITTED

The scholarship committee bases its selection on several criteria, which include demonstrated leadership ability and academic achievement. A major emphasis is placed on community involvement. Jena Araojo excels in every category.

Araojo served in many leadership roles throughout her high school years. In 2014, she served as City Mayor at the American Legion VA Girls State. Other leadership roles include serving as varsity captain of the Academic Team, president of Key Club International and being elected to offices of the Student Government Association in the 9th through 11th grades. Araojo also was a Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Ambassador and Alumni for three years and was a Kiwanis International Key Leader in 2013. Also active in athletics she served as Captain of the SHS Field Hockey JV and Varsity teams and was an active member of the Ivor Softball team as well as the Storm Travel Softball Team. Araojo also participated in the Health Career Club, National BETA Club, National Honor Society, New Tones Choral Group, Prom Committee and Keys 4 A Cure Relay for Life Team.

Notable awards and honors bestowed upon Araojo include: Academic Excellence Award, Virginian-Pilot Scholastic Achievement Team (three years), Key Club International: Distinguished Officer Award, Member of the Month and Outstanding Community Service Award. She also received the Nancy McCormick Citizenship Award, Relay for Life Team Fundraising Award and was selected for All-District Chorus.

Araojo has volunteered for numerous organizations throughout the community. She has assisted her church, Ivor Baptist, by working in the nursery, after school program tutoring and vacation bible school. Through Key Club she has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity Re-Store, Red Cross blood drive, Special Olympics & Trooper Hill Toys for Tots. She also has assisted with carnivals, PTA functions and reading nights at local elementary schools and visited nursing homes and Zuni Presbyterian Home to sing and help with activities.

Araojo has helped to raise thousands of dollars through fundraisers for Relay for Life, UNICEF, The Eliminate Project, Children’s Miracle Network and March of Dimes. Demonstrating her leadership skills, Jena has worked as an instructional assist and field trip chaperone for Paul D. Camp Community College Kids College. At Southampton High School she volunteered as a student ambassador, library assistant, concession and as an after- school tutor.

In response to the essay question “What issue poses the greatest challenge for improving the quality of life in the Franklin-Southampton community, and how would you propose to tackle and resolve this issue (problem)? Araojo noted that the Franklin-Southampton community provides ample opportunity for students and young adults to become involved in the community.

However, the greatest challenge is a lack in student leaders and innovators who are motivated to doing more than the expected. The most difficult challenge facing high school today is the number of incoming freshmen that have no desire to learn, prepare for college, or join extracurricular activities. By the time they graduate they will realize that they did nothing to prepare themselves for adulthood.

To tackle the issue of student involvement, Araojo suggests that the Franklin-Southampton community and high schools alike initiate programs to stimulate student learning, to prep students for future academic endeavors or careers as a freshmen, and to spark interest in various extracurricular activities in order to build leadership and team working skills. It is important that we make students aware of the ample opportunities that the Franklin-Southampton community and a collegiate education have to offer. It is the job of the Franklin-Southampton community to now provide programs to initiate student involvement in the many organizations the community already provides. By sparking student interest, adolescents will be more inclined to do better in school and set goals to improve the quality of life in the Franklin-Southampton Community.

Araojo is the daughter of Patrick and Tami Araojo and will attend The College of William and Mary in the fall.