This year's honorees of the scholarship program
Grove City High School, Grove City
Activities: US Naval Sea Cadet, volleyball, National Honor Society
Camille Lanese sees the values of respect and responsibility as working hand in hand to make individuals and society better.
“If we all respected one another we would live without worry of hate and prejudice,” she writes in her essay.
Camille focused on being respectful before she even knew the definition of the word. As a little girl, she didn't get upset when someone spilled chocolate milk on her clothing or if a teacher gave too much homework.
“Although I did not understand the depth of the topic then, I still appreciated the concept: an acknowledgement of the worth of others,” she writes.
Learning to be responsible took more time, she says. As a younger student, she “just barely” finished her homework and other chores.
Things changed her junior year when she served as a class representative and had events to organize. She also began helping young cadets in the US Naval Sea Cadet program.
“I quizzed the cadets. I made sure they were presentable for inspection. I helped them with anything, including personal issues,” she says. “I truly was responsible for them. And I liked it.”
Today, as she dreams of attending the US Naval Academy, she expects the traits will become even more important. “The Academy requires a kind of personality that lives on respect and responsibility.”
Dublin Scioto High School, Dublin
Activities: Marching band, student senate, Water Club founder
Time spent in the role of a teacher has taught Sri Varre, that there's always more to learn.
As a high school junior, she became passionate about helping the 663 million people who do not have access to clean water and tried to raise funds for Charity: Water.
When Sri shared with a teacher that she was disappointed in her fundraising efforts, the teacher suggested starting a club at the high school. Faced with low attendance, Sri decided to work with the elementary schools.
“During the second school visit, I experienced what every teacher lives for: the moment when your students are so passionate about learning, that they start educating you on new topics,” she says.
The children shared with her about their studies related to the environment—facts about plastic pollution in the oceans and the importance of sustainability. Sri told them about Rachel, a 9-year-old girl who raised $220 for Charity: Water, just $80 short of her goal. Varre shared that the girl told her mother she would try harder the following year, but then died in a car accident. In honor of Rachel's birthday wish, a new fundraiser began, and people across the world raised $1.2 million.
Sri could not believe how much she could learn from teaching. “I learned that I might not be able to touch everyone's heart, but the ones I do will also touch mine.”
Philo High School, Zanesville
Activities: Teen for Teen, National Honor Society, concert band
Franklin Local School District's motto, “Striving for excellence through education,” struck a chord with Grace McCutcheon. The scholar, community volunteer and ballet dancer has set striving for excellence as a goal.
She explores the principle, which she says is “ingrained” into her lifestyle, in her essay entitled, “Excellence: A Constant Pursuit.” She defines achieving excellence not with attaining perfection but as “listening to mentors and others who are experts in their fields, learning from these people and other experiences, and working with dedication and determination to improve.”
As a dancer, she understands one's ability to improve requires more than passion. “A willingness to improve is essential,” she writes. Her willingness is evidenced through hours of practice. That work represents a contract of sorts, she says, where she must be committed to improving and her teachers dedicated to helping her.
“Essentially, they are providing me the tools I need to accomplish excellence,” she says. “In turn, it is up to me to utilize these directions to improve so that I can continually be the best version of myself possible.” She also applies her search for excellence to her studies. While in high school, Grace has taken many advanced placement and college-level courses.
“Ultimately, through dedication and determination I will always strive for excellence,” she says.
Highland High School, Marengo
Activities: NJROTC, National Honor Society, Horticulture Club
Regan Smith wants to be a leader who does more than tell others what to do. She defines a leader as someone who stands up to bullies and sets a positive example that others can follow.
“Being a leader requires an honest respect and compassion for others,” she says. “Being a leader requires courage.”
Much of what Regan knows of leadership has come from her work with the NJROTC, where in the summer of 2016 she was charged with transforming 14 cadets from all over Ohio into a unified team that had to compete against other teams. Following her training exercises, the group finished in first place. “The pride I felt in their accomplishments proved to me that humble leadership is the way I choose to exercise leadership,” she writes.
Despite that, she still was conflicted about standing up for a schoolmate who was being teased. In the end, although she was afraid her classmates would turn on her, she called them out and they quit picking on the other student.
“Although I felt humiliated, I knew that I helped someone who had needed it,” she says. The act further convinced her to work to become a great leader.
“Living a meaningful and productive life requires leadership.”
Teays Valley High School, Ashville
Activities: National Honor Society, volleyball, student council
Carley Miller's school experience has been one of transformation. She has changed from a middle school girl who was overly concerned about being judged to a confident high school student. Her faith, family and friends helped her develop a new mindset and a new attitude.
“I have transformed from being a frightened, socially shy introvert, afraid to come out into the world, to a girl not ashamed to speak the truth and see the beauty in others,” she writes.
When some students at her school were tearing down posters for the Gay Pride Club, she copied more and hung them up. Carley also stood up to a fellow student who had created a social media account designed to post rumors and mean comments. The student then changed it to one focused on sharing compliments.
By changing her outlook, she also found the confidence to run for and win the title Miss Ashville 4th of July and serve as a leader in numerous activities.
“Through my radical mental transformation, I have been able to achieve a lot of things that might not have happened if I was still very socially anxious,” she writes.
Bishop Ready High School, Columbus
Activities: National Honor Society, volleyball, church volunteer
Hannah Williams' drive for excellence began when she was young. Devastated by her baby sister's death from a heart condition, six-year-old Hannah started telling people she wanted to be a pediatric cardio surgeon. She recalls thinking it would be a way to fulfill her role as a big sister to Bella.
As she grew older, she realized her career pursuit would require a strong academic foundation and began to apply herself wholeheartedly to her studies.
“Once I had the opportunity to take difficult classes, I jumped at the chance,” she writes. “Especially as I grow nearer to my college years, I have made a point of challenging myself with a schedule full of AP, dual-enrollment and honors classes, and establishing myself as a leader among my peers.”
The strength and maturity that she gained by having to deal with death at such a young age have helped her achieve academic success, she says. When she's tired from tests, writing assignments and difficult math equations, Hannah doesn't give up. She imagines herself doing the job she's dreamed of since kindergarten.
“One day I will repair tiny hearts so some other sisters get to grow up together,” she says. “One day will come as long as I continue to strive for excellence today.”
St. Francis DeSales High School, Columbus
Activities: Track, student council, National Honor Society
When Kyle Moon took the message of a fortune cookie to heart, he found himself on a path dedicated to helping others. “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile,” became his personal motto.
“Simply stated, that is what I perceive my mission here on earth to be: to work for the good of others because that is the only true way to living a fulfilled life,” he writes.
Since breaking open that fortune, he has raised money for pediatric cancer patients, supported the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation, volunteered at a dog shelter and tutored other students, among many charitable good works.
But Kyle seeks to do more than serve causes. He often takes leadership roles so he can engage and mentor others. He strives to be a leader that has time to help.
“A leader is the type of person who will never say, ‘I don't have time for that,'” he says. “A true leader is involved because he/she is passionate, genuinely wants to be engaged, and has deciphered what he/she values enough to sacrifice the time. In a team effort, a leader picks up the slack from others to ensure it gets accomplished.” Volunteer work has forever shaped his character, he says.
“My involvement in community service has shown me that life is precious. Time is limited, which is why I take each day by storm.”
Fairfield Union High School, Lancaster
Activities: Violinist, tutor, library volunteer
Isabelle Hoover recognizes that mankind has been working to solve injustices for centuries. Despite the efforts of countless heroes, much needs done, says the young woman who wants to aid the cause.
“Justice is indeed a worthy goal, but one that is extremely difficult to obtain; the world has been weeping with injustices for millennia, and will continue to do so for many years more,” she says.
Having experienced injustice in the form of racism while growing up as an Asian-American in a rural Ohio farming community, Isabelle has to stand up for herself and her beliefs.
“I have been mocked, ridiculed, and discriminated against by young and old alike because I am obviously Asian—an exotic alien to those who are unused to racial diversity. Because of these experiences, I know what injustice feels like; I know what it is like to be judged and mocked for physical characteristics that I can neither control nor hide, and I would never wish anyone to feel as I have,” she writes.
Her experiences as a minority student have empowered her speak up when others were being abused—even if it meant risking her own social status. As she advances through school and life, Isabelle hopes to do more to bring about justice.
“Justice in this divided world is certainly not easy to obtain—it is horribly, frighteningly difficult—but I hope that I could make even the most miniscule of differences for those around me in my actions.”
Mount Vernon High School,Mount Vernon
Activities: National Honor Society, Key Club, hospital volunteer
When Hannah Kinnear's father died, she didn't use the tragedy as a way to gain sympathy. She used the life-altering event as the impetus to help others.
In her essay, Hannah explains how she reacted to the news that her father, who was homeless and an alcoholic, was dying because of injuries sustained in a fall. “I was no longer that happy girl, trying to make my life normal with divorced parents,” she writes. “I was the kid in middle school who had to grow up fast and realize that my actions will affect my future.”
Rather than try to hide the circumstances of her father's death, Hannah used them to caution schoolmates about underage drinking. She started giving presentations centered on her dad's story and the risks of alcohol abuse. “I will never stop teaching about the dangers of alcohol, and I only have my father to thank for that,” she says.
She also credits her father with helping her choose her future career. While she was at the hospital saying goodbye to her dad, she appreciated the nurses.
“This life-altering event caused me to understand that not only is nursing, and life, about having sympathy for others, it is about having empathy for others,” she says. “Therefore, I am proud to say that my father played a key role in helping me choose my future profession of nursing. He taught me how to compassionate towards others.”
Upper Arlington High School,Upper Arlington
Activities: National Honor Society, student council, track
When Benjamin Hobson was in middle school, he felt like he had to conform; that he must become a piece of the puzzle that is middle school society. Despite his efforts, he never felt like he belonged.
“Middle school, for me, was a nightmare,” he writes. “I was afraid of everyone, and besides the few friends I had, I was alone. I got by, pretending to fit into an elaborate puzzle I didn't belong to.”
Eventually, he decided to stop hiding and be himself. He found that the effort aligned with one of the BBB UncommonSense principals. “Fidelity, to me, means staying true to your own beliefs and doing what is right,” he writes.
Benjamin found the strength to pursue his convictions because of the way he was raised.
“When I finally realized that I didn't care how other people saw me and found the courage through my faith to live freely, my life was changed,” he says. “I chose fidelity because staying true to myself was the best decision I have ever made.”
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Judges for 2017 Students of Integrity Awards
Jackie LaMuth, Ohio State University Faculty (Retired)
Janet Tressler-Davis, Westerville Chamber of Commerce President/CEO
Kate Bauer, Columbia Gas of Ohio Community Engagement Manager
Diana Morgan, DLM Consulting Group CEO
Hillary Bates, Columbus Zoo Director, Strategic Partnerships
Theresa Potter, Franklin UniversityAdjunct Faculty Marketing
Holly Richard, BBB Central Ohio, Business Development
Scott Failor, Nationwide SVP Associate General Counsel