Sarah Withem is our Lufkin High School scholarship recipient this year. What a lovely young woman…in body and spirit. Very friendly, warm and open. She laughed often, has a big, genuine smile and that reminded me of Lauren. We enjoyed getting to know her after pictures were made. She is active in her church and helps teach 2nd grade boys…she is brave…lol. She will be living on campus and plans to join the Baptist Student Union to make more friends and be with other Christian students. She will be working part-time to help pay for her schooling. She wants to be a Speech Language Pathologist.
After being notified of the scholarship Sarah wrote a really thoughtful thank you note to us. In it she said, “I feel very fortunate to have been chosen as the recipient of a scholarship that believes in love, action and faith. Those three words drive my life, and I admire this foundation for standing behind those concepts.” She took the initiative to look up Lauren, our foundation and learn about us. Wow…that says a lot about her character and her heart. I have no doubt we chose well this year. She is special and her parents should be proud of her…they have raised a lovely, young woman.
Met Cristina Williams our recipient for Lufkin High School 2017. We enjoyed getting to know Cristina during “picture time” before the awards ceremony. She is a very quite, respectful young lady…matter of fact I think we scared her with how talkative and loud we can be…but she got used to us peppering her with questions and our laughter. She is in the LHS band and plays the clarinet and is thinking of trying for the SFA Band. She is already a CNA and has plans to work her summers and then concentrate on school during the semesters. Her family has had some health issues and that has steered her toward her chosen path. She is going to start the Pre-Med program and major in Biology from there she wants to go to Baylor and become an Anesthesiologist. She then wants to come back to work in Lufkin and to also start a youth program to help keep kids on track to achieve their goals and dreams.
Here is part of her thank you note:
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Bryan Alston,
It is an honor to receive the Lauren Alston Memorial Scholarship. Mr and Mrs Alston I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I understand how important this scholarship is and I promise that the name Lauren Alston will forever live with me, as I attend SFA, in this cruel yet beautiful world. I am glad you gave me the chance to achieve my goals. I thank you for lifting this financial burden that almost stopped me from pursuing my dreams. I thank you for putting your faith in me. It is good to know that there are good and kind people still left in the world.
So once again I thank you, Cristina Williams
It is hard to believe it has been 35 years since I graduated from Lufkin High School. A lot has happened to me in those 35 years…mostly good things…married for 33 laughter filled years, 2 healthy children, lots of travel adventures, successful businesses, and more… but one terribly sad, hard, difficult thing…the loss of my daughter Lauren.
Her 10 year high school reunion was this year….and it brings up several memories. I also graduated from Lufkin High School…in the Class of 1981. Ten years ago for the celebration of our 25th graduation anniversary, the class decided to give out a college scholarship to a deserving LHS graduating senior. Out of all those who applied, you guessed it, Lauren was picked as that student. What a great honor for her and I was so proud for her to be chosen by my class…I was tickled pink about it…or should I say purple as that is one of our school colors. I believe she lived up to that honor…she worked hard and graduated from SFA in the class of 2006, Cum Laude with a BS in Hospitality Management. That is one of the proudest and most special memories I have of her.
Another memory is of a classmate of mine from the Class of 1981. Her name was Jennifer Estes and she passed away in 1984, just 3 short years after our graduation. She was a Business major at Sam Houston State University and had a car wreck on her way home one weekend. At the time I remember thinking about how her life was cut short, how she would never get married and have children, how close she was to getting her degree, how her family must feel in dealing with the loss of their child and sister, the shockingly, unexpected, suddenness of her death…. and how do you go on with your life when you lose a child. Jennifer was a Senior in college and just 21…so…was…Lauren. I never imagined I would be in the same position as Jennifer’s Mom.
We give out at least one $1000 scholarship each year through the Lufkin High School Alumni Association. You can look at pictures of past recipients under the heading of LAF Recipients: LHS. We gave out the first scholarship just 2 months after Lauren’s passing and will continue for life. We have a “To Donate Online” button in the headings of this site if you ever wish to help us continue that legacy. Thank you… and Go Panthers.
Meet Elizabeth Foreman our 2016 Lufkin High School Scholarship Recipient. Elizabeth will be attending SFA this fall. She will be commuting the first year and is looking forward to joining and being active in the Baptist Student Union. She is majoring in Secondary Education and minor in Mathematics. She loves numbers and wants to teach High School math. From there she wants to take night and online classes to obtain a Master’s Degree in Education Leadership with the idea of becoming a Principal should the opportunity arise.
We have no doubt she will obtain her goals and go far in life. In her thank you note she said, “I have always striven for greater and to make an impact on people’s lives. I am going to work very hard these next few years so that I am able to eventually give back, as a teacher and possibly a scholarship to future students just like myself.”
Bryan, Whitney Scott, Suzanne. SFA Ax’em Jacks
Meet Whitney Scott, our SFA recipient for they school year 2016-17. We were able to met Whitney at the beginning of the year because we went to the School of Human Sciences Honor Convocation on April 12th and presented her with the Lauren Alston Memorial Scholarship in person. The SFA Scholarship Star Alumni Reception is usually when we met our recipient and is held at the end of the school term. We were excited to get the opportunity to met Whitney at the beginning of her term. We met her and visited before the start of the program and then met her parents after the program and visited additionally as a group. When I saw her I quickly noticed her James Avery ring and commented on it. I told her about Lauren’s love for JA jewelry and showed her the pieces I wear everyday that were Lauren’s. She then pointed out her JA Texas shaped necklace that had SFA engraved on it. I told her part of why we chose her was because of her essay about living with dyslexia and what she had to do to get into SFA…her grades had to be improved. Her determination to attend SFA, after a visit with her sister who is a graduate student, impressed me and I wanted to reward her for her hard work. She said she is enjoys math and is great at it but her spelling is bad…she gets her letters messed up but not her numbers. We told her being able to balance her checkbook is an important skill in life…lol. Whitney asked me about Lauren and wanted to know more about her…that warmed my heart. She told me she was interested in being an event planner and wanted to know what Lauren had wanted to do…event planning. She and Lauren shared many things in common…love SFA…go Jacks, James Avery jewelry, Chinese food, event planning and both were super friendly and smiled a lot. We really enjoyed meeting Whitney and her parents, who came from Ft Worth…her Dad said there was a connection and that it felt like we had known them for years. We will see Whitney again when she works the Culinary Cafe next spring. Her thank you note said she would make us proud for honoring her with Lauren’s scholarship…I have no doubt she will do just that.
Suzanne, Bryan, Whitney and Dr. Judy Abbott, Dean of College of Education
Last week we went to the School of Human Sciences Honors Convocation at SFA. We had the pleasure of meeting one of our two recipients for this school year. We were able to meet Mr. Brandon Chaddick. He was there to receive another memorial scholarship for this coming school year. We were able to visit with him after the ceremony. His parents were there and we “stole” him away for a little visiting and pictures. He was so happy to meet us as he hadn’t had the opportunity yet to meet any other of his donors for this past school year. He was such a humble and thankful young man. He smiled a lot and told us many times during our conversation how thankful and appreciative he was for receiving the Lauren Alston Memorial Scholarship. Brandon will be a Senior this coming year and will be working the Culinary Cafe this fall where we plan to catch up with him again during a dinner or lunch on campus. Lauren also participated in the Culinary Cafe class for a semester. If you ever have the opportunity to go you will be quite impressed. The students plan the menu, help cook, serve the meal and decorate the tables according to the theme of the meal. The food is always delish and visually appealing, the students do a fantastic job.
Below is just a few paragraphs from his last thank you letter dated Jan. 5, 2016.
“As I approached the Fall 2015 semester at SFA, I was a bit unsure of how I would be able to afford all of my classes for the semester, as I was placed with the formidable task of funding and completing 16 course hours. Fortunately, I was given the ability to afford my classes through scholarship funds donated by generous individuals such as yourselves. Thus, after receiving the scholarship, I made sure that the resources provided to me would not go to waste, I buckled down, studied hard, and for the first time in two semesters, received an “A” in all of my courses.
Overall, my experiences in my last semester proved to me that hard work pays off and can sometimes even be rewarded. It truly is the least that I can do, as the amount of money provided by your donation has been both substantial and vital to my continued education.
Once, again, I am genuinely humbled by having the Lauren Alston Memorial Scholarship bestowed upon me and I truly hope that I am continuing the make you proud of my achievements, which would be far more difficult to attain had I not been provided with financial assistance. From the bottom of my hear, I am truly thankful.” Sincerely, Brandon Chaddick
We have 2 exciting updates to tell you about.
First…we had $792 more in donations given to us in the last few weeks. We are so thankful because that means we can help more students with college scholarships or more young adults going a mission trip or more children with new backpacks or ???…the possibilities are numerous …to make a difference in someone’s life. Thank you for your help in continuing Lauren’s legacy of helping others.
Second…we have an update on one of our Lufkin High School recipients. Lauren Taylor Hancock graduated in 2011 and is attending Stephen F. Austin State University. She lives in Nacogdoches, is a senior and will be graduating in May of 2016. She was a Twirl-O-Jack for her first two years of college and she feels that helped her to stay connected and feel apart of something after high school. “College can be lonely and that time I had to be involved really helped shape who I am and the decisions I made about my future” she said. Her major is Family and Consumer Sciences with a focus in Hospitality, Nutrition and Food Science. Her minor is in Secondary Education. Her passion is to educate and teach students from middle school to high school to understand the science behind the food they eat and how to be a great cook. She is President of her student organization and they do events related to family and community such as Toy for Tots and Thanksgiving Home Bound food baskets. Lauren said “Thank you for the head start you gave me in college. Both of you are so generous for keeping the scholarship going in Lauren’s honor.”
Amy Murray, LHS recipient from 2010 and Lauren Taylor Hancock, LHS recipient 2011.