SOUTH ABINGTON TWP. — Albert and Carol Mueller and Christina Mueller-Curran, co owners/operators of the McDonald’s Restaurant on Northern Boulevard, hosted a luncheon in honor of three recent high school graduates and scholarship winners at the business on July 2.
Alison Barrett, of Scranton; Jason Dotzel, of Mountaintop; and Phillip Hettes, of Noxen, were each awarded a $1,000 Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) of Northeastern Pennsylvania scholarship in recognition of their “outstanding academic performance and community involvement.”
The three awards were sponsored by the Mueller family, which owns and operates 15 area McDonald’s Restaurants, including locations in Scranton, Mountaintop, Shavertown and Tunkhannock. In total, the RMHC of NEPA awarded $20,000 in scholarship money to 18 students in the region.
A total of 468 students applied, 61 made the final qualifications and 18 were awarded the scholarship.
Although this is the first year the Ronald McDonald House Charities of NEPA participated in the RMHC Scholarship Program, the organization provides grants totalling more than $200,000 per year, to support non-profit programs that directly improve the health and well-being of area children and their families, according to a news release.
All three scholars expressed gratitude toward RMHC for the scholarship and said the fact that it comes from such an organization gives the award even more merit in their eyes.
“It’s an honor to be one of the 18 chosen,” said Hettes. “It does mean a lot, especially coming from an organization that does so many things for so many people.”
The Lake-Lehman alumnus took seven honors classes and five AP classes and graduated sixth in his class of 157 students. He plans to attend Penn State main campus, where he will major in petroleum engineering. At Lake-Lehman, he was class president and captain of the wrestling, lacrosse and football teams and organized a wrestling tournament, fashion show and dodge ball tournament for local charities.
He said in the midst of all of these activities, however, he wasn’t seeking recognition or rewards. He was simply doing what he loves.
“It feels real good to be honored, but when you’re doing that stuff, that’s not what you’re thinking about,” he said.
Hettes’ advice to students still in high school or just entering high school is to participate in activities you enjoy and “try your hardest in everything you do.”
“Do everything you can,” he said. “But don’t do so much it becomes a burden to you.”
Barrett, a Scranton High School graduate, gave similar advice, saying students should make time to get involved in activities they enjoy. For her, high school was all about time management.
“Even if you have a crazy schedule, if you’re doing what you love, it’s easier to manage,” she said.
Barrett graduated first in her class of 429 students, after successfully completing 11 honors classes and six AP classes. She was president of the speech and debate and mock trial teams and the National Honor Society and participated in many community programs and activities such as Friends of the Poor, Coaches vs. Cancer and the Family to Family Thanksgiving Project.
She plans to major in biology at Pennsylvania State University.
Dotzel graduated 28th in his class of 225 at Crestwood High School and plans to attend the University of Richmond for finance and economics.
He was class president, co-captain of the basketball and golf teams and president of the Spanish Club. He also participated in Vacation Bible School and Coaches vs. Cancer.
He is grateful for the time he spent in high school focusing on these things.
“A lot of the stuff you do in high school goes off the radar,” he said, explaining this scholarship will help him later in life.
Albert Mueller said he and his colleagues began developing the scholarship project five years ago and are proud to see it come to fruition this year. They hope to keep the program going for years to come and already have plans to improve it. Students wishing to apply in future years should first speak with their guidance counselors and insure they fill out the entire application before filing it.