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CVSA Awards $1,000 College Scholarships to Five Deserving Students

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) would like to congratulate Jonah Cote, Margaret Meland, Nicholas Parks, Sarah Smith and Addison Stailey. These five outstanding students were awarded $1,000 each as part of CVSA’s college scholarship award program.

Jonah Cote will major in computer science at the University of Vermont. Margaret Meland will pursue a degree in elementary and special education at Northern State University in South Dakota. Nicholas Parks will attend Purdue University, in Indiana, majoring in aerospace engineering. Sarah Smith will attend Lander University, in South Carolina, to become a nurse practitioner. And Addison Stailey will pursue a degree in elementary and special education at Indiana University.

“When we opened this year’s scholarship awards program, we certainly did not expect to be living through a pandemic at the start of the fall school semester,” said CVSA President Sgt. John Samis with the Delaware State Police. “These have been challenging times and this generation of students will be embarking on a major life change – starting college – during a worldwide public health crisis. We hope these awards will help, providing a bit of monetary relief during times of such uncertainty.”

The CVSA College Scholarship Award Program is competitive in its selection criteria, uniquely tailored to recognize outstanding high school seniors by weighing academic performance, volunteer work, community service and extracurricular activities.

Our first college scholarship award recipient, Jonah Cote, was born and raised in Canaan, Vermont, on the Canadian border, and will be attending the University of Vermont for a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a master’s degree in data science. Jonah is the son of Lt. Gene Cote with the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Section.

“I’ve set my goals to work on blending cybersecurity with machine learning,” said Jonah. “After college, I will build practical experience working for private companies that contract for the government, keeping our nation’s critical infrastructure safe from both cybercriminals and rogue states.”

While in high school, Jonah was in a dual-enrollment marketing course through the community college. He finished first in his class and served as National Honor Society Advisory Board president and the New England District Key Club treasurer. As a member of the Empower Coos Youth Grants Program student-led committee, Jonah assisted in fundraising and awarding more than $50,000 to local nonprofits whose goals ranged from sustainable farming to after-school activities. In addition to serving the school and community, he also remained a three-sport athlete throughout his high school years.

“His ability to maintain straight As while participating in so many extracurricular activities is evidence that he possesses great time management skills,” said Canaan Memorial High School business teacher Denise E. Wood, M.Ed. “Jonah’s positive and friendly personality makes him a tremendous pleasure to have in the classroom. He always comes to my class with a smile on his face, ready to learn, which makes it a joy for me to teach.”

Our second scholarship award winner, Margaret (Maggie) Meland, daughter of Steve Meland with the South Dakota Highway Patrol, will attend Northern State University in South Dakota.

“Maggie intends to pursue a degree in elementary and special education,” said Maggie’s teacher at Watertown High School, Danielle Harms. “This makes my teacher heart happy because Maggie already has skills that will make her an excellent teacher – her willingness to help others, her motivation and her work ethic make her a natural teacher.”

Maggie was on the honor roll all four years of high school, she earned the Awesome Arrow Award for a 4.0 grade point average, 2016-2020, and she was a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Leadership Team, 2019-2020. Maggie’s skills and hobbies include swimming, teaching, drawing, singing, playing the saxophone, speaking Spanish and reading. Maggie also volunteered at the Special Olympics and helped teach first- and fourth-graders at Holy Name of Jesus Parish.

“My cousin Alexa has a cognitive and physical disability and has always had a tougher time completing daily tasks,” said Maggie. “Also, my uncle has down syndrome, and I love spending time with him and getting to know him and his disability better all of the time. My uncle and cousin haven’t always gotten to experience the things I have, so I really want to be able to help others like them receive the best quality education and life possible.”

“I want to make a positive influence on the special needs community and a career in special education will give me that opportunity,” she added.

Another scholarship recipient is Nicholas (Nick) Parks, whose father is Dan Parks with the Delaware State Police. Nick has been helping his dad with projects “since he was little” and that love for designing, building and creating has encouraged Nick to pursue aerospace engineering for his college major.

“I aspire to design and build spacecraft systems that will help usher in a new era of exploration for mankind,” said Nick. “It is my hope that scientific advances made in the area of space travel and exploration might even work to solve some of the problems we face here on Earth.”

Nick was on the honor roll all four years of high school, was a member of the National Honor Society and the Technology Student Association, and graduated with a weighted grade point average above 4.0. He served on the stage crew for the school theater department, played on the high school soccer team, played oboe with the school wind ensemble, was one of the drumline captains for the school marching band and served as a band officer throughout his high school years. Nick also volunteered with younger band and soccer groups and at the annual Delaware Special Olympics Truck Convoy.

School counselor Penny Halfen, of Newark Charter School, had this to say about Nick: “Going above and beyond in all that he does is the most appropriate way to describe Nick’s work ethic. Regardless of how complicated or easy a task is, Nick will only be satisfied if he knows he devoted 100% of his time and energy to the task at hand.”

Our next award recipient, Sarah Smith, daughter of Gerald Smith, of the South Carolina State Transport Police, will attend Lander University, in South Carolina, to become a nurse practitioner.

In addition to her classwork, Sarah has been a member of the Beta Club, an independent educational youth organization that promotes academic achievement, character, service and leadership among students. She was also a member of HOSA, an international student organization that promotes career opportunities in the health care industry. Through her high school classes, Sarah was able to earn her certified nursing assistant license last December. Sarah plans to begin Lander University in the fall to pursue her dreams of becoming a nurse practitioner. She wants to continue in the role of helping her community through healthcare.

“Sarah aspires to become a nurse and has shown great interest in all things healthcare,” said Sue Ellen Shealy, RN, BSN, health science instructor and HOSA advisor. “Sarah is very organized, punctual and a caring young lady. She has excellent communication skills, works well with others from various backgrounds in any situation and is willing to lend a helping hand to her peers in any way she can.”

“Nursing is exciting, remarkable and rewarding,” said Sarah. “I believe nursing is my calling in life. I enjoy being able to make a difference in people’s lives daily. All my life, I knew I wanted to work in the medical field.”

Our fifth and final scholarship recipient, Addison Stailey, daughter of Kirby Stailey with Electricom, will attend Indiana University to pursue a degree in elementary and special education.

Along with finishing second in her class, Addison was class treasurer and on the honor roll all four years of high school. She was also a BlackHawk Scholar Athlete every year and won Scholar Athlete of the Year her senior year. Addison was also a Sunday school teacher, a tutor, local church camp counselor, a Head Start back to school volunteer and a public library volunteer.

“Not only has Addison challenged herself in the classroom, she has also been focused on using her high school years to prepare for a future profession in teaching elementary school,” said Dr. Kara Pickens, dual-credit English instructor and National Honor Society advisor at Springs Valley High School. “Her jobs, volunteer work and cadetting experience have centered on opportunities to help develop skills and experiences that will make her a better teacher. But more than that, Addison has the kind of care and love for young children that will make her students feel invested in and appreciated. She understands both the academic and emotional needs young children have and how her role as a teacher can help children develop into knowledgeable and self-assured adults someday.”

“Becoming an impactful educator has been my dream since I was a little girl and thanks to scholarships from generous groups, like CVSA, I am so grateful to be able to do so,” said Addison.

Applicants for the scholarship award must write and submit two essays, provide two letters of recommendation (one from a teacher and one from another nonrelative adult), provide a high school transcript and have a minimum grade point average or equivalent of 3.0. To be eligible to apply for the scholarship, applicants must be a legal dependent of a CVSA member and a citizen and/or permanent legal resident of Canada, Mexico or the U.S.

All scholarship recipients have received their award. CVSA was able to award the scholarships thanks, in part, to a generous donation by J. J. Keller & Associates Inc., a trusted source for transportation, workplace safety, human resources, construction safety and hazardous materials regulation compliance products and services.

The CVSA College Scholarship Award Program is dedicated to Gary E. Curtis. While working for the Virginia State Police, Curtis was an active member of CVSA and a cornerstone in the development of the roadside North American Standard Inspection Program. He came to CVSA in 1992, faithfully serving as the Alliance’s director of technical services. His efforts and contributions helped form the solid base upon which CVSA now proudly stands. Curtis lost his life to cancer in December 1998.