Giving Back and Being a Dedicated Scholar
BY: Cheyanne Gonzales ’18
“What is an Investment Alliance Scholar?” This is a question I have been asked since beginning my college career nearly four years ago. While many people may know one of the 36 Investment Alliance Scholars, some may wonder what the program is, why it was created, or what the scholars are able to accomplish during their time at Mount Union.
In short, the Investment Alliance Scholarship program was created to “keep the best and brightest in Alliance.” In 2014, the scholarship was announced offering the top 15 students in Alliance High School’s graduating class full tuition scholarships to the University of Mount Union. While the program was originally established for four years, it has been extended to include the AHS graduating classes from 2014-21.
The scholarship provides Alliance students with the opportunity to network in Alliance and show them what their hometown has to offer once they graduate from college. The program helps to provide students with connections to find jobs, internships, and shadowing opportunities throughout their time at Mount.
Kelby Smith ’18, an art major, and Dane Johnson ’19, an exercise science major, are two scholars who have taken the initiative to give back to the Alliance community and get involved during their time in college.
Smith, an art major with a concentration in graphic design, is part of the inaugural class of Investment Alliance Scholars. She has taken advantage of many of the opportunities available to her, which has led her to get involved in the community and on campus.
“Being a part of the first group of Investment Alliance Scholars, I believe we are seen as the foundation of this program,” Smith said. “It is our job to represent Alliance High School, the University of Mount Union, and the community well.”
Attending Mount as a scholar has opened many doors for her in her hometown. She has been able to work at Cockrill’s Studio for three years and take part in an internship at the Greater Alliance Foundation. Both opportunities helped her to develop skills that will benefit her for her future career as a graphic designer.
Being actively involved in the community has always been a huge part of Smith’s life. One of the most prominent ways she was able to give back was by serving as the city’s ambassador when she was crowned the 2014 Greater Alliance Carnation Festival Queen. She held the title throughout her first year at Mount Union.
“As an Alliance native and the 2014 Carnation Festival Queen, I’ve had the opportunity to meet a number of exceptional people,” Smith said. “Having lived in Alliance my whole life, discovering the diversity within out city and understanding the community on a deeper level has without a doubt been one of the most rewarding aspects of being a resident of Alliance and a scholar.”
She has taken part in a number of organizations that have allowed her to continue giving back to the Alliance community. Just a few of her involvements include being a member of Kappa Pi international art fraternity and Alpha Lambda Delta honor society, being a Raider Student Media multimedia director, and taking part in a number of service opportunities hosted by the Regula Center for Public Service and Civic Engagement.
“It is important to be dedicated and appreciative and to take every opportunity this scholarship gives us,” Smith said.
She plans to stay in Alliance following graduation and continue to give back to the community that has done so much for her.
When Dane Johnson, graduated high school, he was approached by the Alliance Middle School’s football coach to be a volunteer. After a short time volunteering, Johnson was hired as a football coach and wrestling coach for seventh and eighth grade, a role in which he has served for three years.
He loves being able to work with the athletes and seeing them accomplish their goals, especially when his wrestlers hard work pays off and they win state championships. He is proud of all his athletes and believes they receive their success from their hard work.
“It’s their efforts,” Johnson said. “I’m just helping them along the way. Those are their accomplishments.”
Being a scholar and a coach has allowed Johnson to show the students what is available to them when they work hard.
Coaching is his way of giving back to the community for all it has given him. Being from Alliance and attending Alliance High School, he was rewarded for his hard work by receiving the Investment Alliance Scholarship.
“It’s been rewarding to have gone through Alliance,” Johnson said. “The opportunity is very special, and I am honored and privileged to be a scholar.”
Receiving the scholarship has enabled him to focus more in his studies and worry less about paying tuition costs during school. But for Johnson, the most important thing about the scholarship is that it is helping out Alliance students who may not have otherwise had the opportunity to attend a school such as Mount Union.
He believes it is important for the scholars to give back because of the opportunity Mount Union and Alliance has provided.
“We owe it to Alliance and we owe it to Mount for this amazing opportunity,” Johnson said.