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.
Glen from LHS Alumni Association called me over a month ago. He had narrowed down our choice of recipients by the qualifications we had given him…he always does a great job. He told me “I know I have always given you girls to choose from but this year I have several great guys I want to tell you about.” I told him we didn’t care if they were male or female…we just wanted to help deserving youngsters. He said “I don’t know if you know this family or not but they go to our church…Jeff and Tracy Portwood and their son is John. He is active in the young group, he plays on the golf team, he was thinking about Pharmacy as his possible degree, he has a very good GPA and more good qualities.” I let him tell me all about John and when he finished I laughed…in a good way…and said, “We know the Portwoods very well, they are our friends, and Yes, John is a great young man.” I told him how much the Portwoods helped us after Lauren passed away and that the whole family were kind, helpful, generous people.
Glen went on the tell me about several girls and another young man. He said he was really impressed with him when he interviewed him. Yes, all students applying for Alumni Association scholarships are personally interviewed along with other criteria they have to meet. But on to the next young man. He told me how he was on the robotics team, the swim team, he was already a CNA but wanted to be a Nurse Practitioner, he worked at the Boys and Girls Club and more good qualities. He then told me his name was Thomas Powell.
After Glen told me about all the possible candidates, Bryan and I talked about them and chose the two young men. Scholarship Awards night was on May 12, 2015 and we got to visit with them and have our picture taken. We were talking with Thomas and asked who his parents were. He told us Gary and Suzy and Bryan and I just looked at each other and started laughing…they were our “old neighbors” from Brookhollow. We had not recognized Thomas, because he was 12 when we saw him last and we knew him as “TJ” not Thomas. Lauren had even babysat him, his twin and their little sister.
Wow…how fitting to have two quality young men…that Lauren personally knew…from families that are our friends and were “there for us” after Lauren passed away. We are so happy to award these young men the Lauren Alston Memorial Scholarship for Lufkin High School for 2015.
Bryan, Thomas Powell, John Portwood & Suzanne