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Begich Scholarship Intern Fund Announces 2012-2013 Scholarship Winners


Pegge Begich, Chair of the Nick Begich Scholarship Intern Fund, today announced seventeen winners of the 2012-2013 scholarships, including an unprecedented tie for the top award, the Eugene A. KennedyScholarship.

“We saw more applications from more places in Alaska than in any year that I can remember” said Board Chair, Pegge Begich, widow of the late Alaska Congressman Nick Begich for whom the Fund is named. “This would have been Nick’s eightieth birthday today. I think if he had seen the applications of this year’s winners – and many more to whom we simply could not provide awards – he would have been proud.”
The Fund, set up in 1977, five years after the disappearance of the small plane carrying Congressman Begich (D), Louisiana Congressman Hale Boggs (D), Begich aide Russ Brown and pilot Don Jonz, has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for deserving Alaskans interested in careers in public service and education. “Nick was a teacher and he was an elected official” said Begich. “He understood the importance of both educating our children and promoting civic engagement and involvement. We should all seek to serve our communities as he did, and that is what we try to promote with the Fund.”

This year’s winners included Alaskans from Anchorage, Copper Center, Dillingham, Fairbanks, Juneau, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Kotzebue, Point Hope, Soldotna and Yakutat.

The top award, provided to the highest scoring application as determined by an 11-member Board of Directors (who review all applications) was tied for this year and will be shared by Tessa Ely of Anchorage and Alexei Painter of Juneau – both graduate students. “I do not ever recall in the history of the Fund a time when the top two applications tied”, observed Begich. “In this instance both of these Alaskans are pursuing Masters Degrees and both will be granted our highest award and be acknowledged as this year’s Eugene A.
Kennedy scholars.” The Kennedy scholarship is a $2,000 award that may be renewed for a set period of time and is named for the founder and first Executive Director of the Fund. A former aide and best friend of Congressman Begich, Kennedy passed away in 2002.

This is a list of this year’s winners and their areas of study: Tessa Ely – Eugene A. Kennedy Scholar (tie) Anchorage, Special Education
Alexei Painter – Eugene A. Kennedy Scholar (tie) Juneau, Public Service, Public Policy
Amelia Ruerup – Fairbanks, Public Service, Rural Development
Lauren Heyano – Anchorage, Elementary Education
David Mitchel – Ketchikan, Secondary Education
Alexander Van Wyhe – Copper Center/Kenny Lake, Secondary Education
Rylee DeVito – Soldotna, Secondary Education
Heather Minix – Point Hope, Elementary Education
Peter Jorgensen – Juneau, Public Service
Molly Carver – Kodiak, Public Service, law
Jayna Blanchard – Ketchikan, Special Education
Jesse Rogers – Dillingham, Public Service, Government
Colin Ely – Anchorage, Special Education
Clara McConnell – Kotzebue, Public Service, Rural Education Advocacy
Kati Dutcher – Soldotna, Elementary Education
Sofiya Kostoreava – Anchorage, Public Service
Amanda Israelson – Yakutat, Education

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