By Diane Madigan
Independent Special Writer
On May 20, the Belleville Rotary Club held its 69th Annual Scholarship Award Program in the basement of Belleville’s First United Methodist Church.
Ten scholarships of $2,000 each were awarded to Belleville High School graduates. The club recognized seven recipients of first-time scholarships and three recipients of second-year, renewal scholarships.
The Scholarship Award event was attended by more than 100 Rotarians and guests, including relatives of the students, administrators and school board members from Van Buren Public Schools, representatives from Sumpter Township and a board member from the Belleville Area Chamber of Commerce.
After the meal, 34th District Court Judge Brian Oakley, who is a Romulus Rotarian and the current Romulus Citizen of the Year, directed his speech to the student awardees and their families.
Judge Oakley opened by saying he is not good at telling people what they want to hear, but rather is good at telling people what they need to hear. He advised the students that no one owes them a thing, rather they owe the world their time, talents, and passion.
He reminded the graduates of how fortunate they are to live in this nation and stressed giving back through serving others. He warned them to go in with their eyes wide open and know what it’s going to take to get out of debt.
Judge Oakley’s daughter, two nieces, and a nephew are graduating from college this year. He said he asked them for advice to pass on to the scholarship awardees.
He said they gave the following advice: Say yes to new experiences. Set goals internally and don’t compare yourself to people around you. Join things on campus. Get involved, there are people going through the same struggles as you. Embrace the idea of a fresh start and buy good rain boots.
Judge Oakley ended by saying, “Good luck I hope this is the low point of your life.”
The Belleville Rotary has been around for 75 years and has awarded more than $400,000 in grants over the years for local community service as well as international projects to those in need.
Internationally it has supported efforts toward polio eradication, building footbridges in mountain countries, establishing safe water and other sanitary facilities for impoverished communities, and other projects.
The Belleville Rotary Club also has awarded well over $400,000 to BHS students as part of the scholarship program. This year, the primary funding source for the scholarship program has been the Charles B. Cozadd Rotary Foundation.
By Diane Madigan