Hearing from Marcus Alumni and LEF Scholarship recipient Sarah (Smith) Lueking reminds us that often it is less about the amount given and received and more about the investment. For Sarah, the scholarship she received from LEF was small in comparison to the overall cost of her education. However, it was a direct investment in Sarah and her dreams to make a difference!
“LEF invested in me, and now I am making a difference! In 2005, LEF awarded me with the Highland Village Women’s Club Scholarship. This $500 scholarship helped me attend the University of Oklahoma where I majored in Zoology and Biomedical Sciences. I am now a Cell and Molecular Biology Ph.D. student at Florida State University conducting HIV research to determine how the virus is maintained in host cells and what might keep it from becoming activated. I expect to finish at FSU in 2014. Upon completion of my PhD, I hope to develop new treatments for either HIV or cancer (still haven’t decided which one). I am so appreciative of the financial contributions that LEF made toward my education and am living proof that your gifts make a difference!”
Sarah (Smith) Lueking, Marcus High School Class of 2005
LEF Scholarship Recipient
For Sarah, and many students just like her, it truly is about the investment – and not just in resources but also in time and commitment. In sharing with LEF about the path her life has taken, she praised her LISD education stating, “the farther I progress in academia, the more I realize how solid a foundation my education at Marcus provided me.” However, two Marcus teachers hold special prominence for Sarah – Latin teacher Mel Santos (or Magistra as she was called by her students) and drama/theatre teacher Rita Powers-White.
Teachers make a difference – no doubt about it! LISD is blessed by the commitment of many wonderful educators, as evidenced by the numerous Foundation Awards given each year. And Sarah’s experience is no different. About her teachers, she shares the following:
From Latin I through IV, [Mrs. Santos] was instrumental in shaping the person I am today. I entered her class as an immature, smart-alecky freshman who would have rather been the cool kid than the smart kid – [this] was unacceptable to Magistra. For four semesters, she pushed me (hard, I might add) to quit goofing off and work to my full potential; I carried that lesson with me through my undergrad and now in graduate school. Magistra was also a profound source of support during those crazy high school years; she never gave up on anyone, even the students who were ready to give up on themselves. For all of that, I would just love to thank her.
Mrs. Powers . . . gave me my first role in a play and helped me build a confidence I had never known before. In her class, we worked hard; we rehearsed for hours, [built] our own sets, and at the very end, performed in front of hundreds of people. It was a prime example how hard work could pay off. And she was always there. For every late night, early morning, or weekend rehearsal, Mrs. Powers was right there with us, inspiring us to do great things.
At LEF, we believe that every student needs a strong foundation, and we are working hard to provide that. Whether big or small, your gift to LEF is an investment in the future and in the educational excellence of students and teachers in LISD!
You don’t have to make a big donation to make a big difference.
And at LEF, that’s a phrase we like to keep repeating!
– Sarah (Smith) Lueking, MHS Graduate & LEF Scholarship Recipient