Five seniors from five Douglas County School District high schools were awarded a $2,000 Missy Martin Scholarship for a total of $10,000.
The scholarship is named after Missy and after getting married, she is now Missy Berg. She has dedicated her time to give back to the same community that helped her through a tragic accident and to other students who have overcome challenges and have decided to continue their education.
In 2002, Berg was a varsity cheerleader and peer mentor at Douglas County High School when she was hit by a train on the way to school. She suffered a traumatic brain injury and was in a coma for about five weeks.
She went through nearly two years of hospitalization and extensive rehabilitation to learn how to function normally again.
Berg decided she wanted to give back to other students, so with the help of her father David, they created the nonprofit, Future Hope Foundation, to honor local youth who have worked to overcome adversity.
“These people are amazing,” said Berg. “They just come and they have all these amazing stories and it is so good to help them go to college and to further their life.”
Among the seniors to receive the scholarship this year was Kendall Covak from Chaparral.
School counselor Holly Treiber had the opportunity to honor Covak and her accomplishments.
Covak was diagnosed in eighth grade with Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, otherwise known as POTS and has seen numerous specialists and tried multiple treatments.
Despite her daily medical hardships, Covak has maintained a 3.8 GPA and has continued to give back to the Chaparral community.
Not only did she compete in Chaparral volleyball for three years, Covak served as a peer mentor to others and was an integral part in supporting students after school in unified sports.
Covak will continue her education at Colorado State University where she plans to pursue an undergraduate degree and a masters in occupational therapy.
Mountain Vista school counselor Andy Labron became emotional while speaking on behalf of Kamila Skonieczny.
Skonieczny was born to a Polish family in Highlands Ranch, however, when she was 6 years old, her family had to return to Poland.
While in Poland, Skonieczny and her father became close as they found a shared love for karate.
Unfortunately, Skonieczny lost her father unexpectedly in 2016. In 2022, as Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion on Ukraine, Skonieczny and her family had to make a decision.
“As tensions escalated,” said Labron. “Kamila certainly worked to convince her family to move back to America.”
Facing many cultural challenges, Skonieczny has successfully completed AP courses and dreams of pursuing a career in medicine, specifically to become a surgeon.
Graduating from Rock Canyon, Jacoby Keefe, whose older sister was a Missy Martin Scholarship recipient two years ago, was also awarded a scholarship.
Speaking on behalf of Keefe was school counselor, Mike Sullivan.
“He embodies what this scholarship is about,” said Sullivan.
Keefe was adopted into a large family and with seven siblings, he was willing to help out. Although school was challenging for him, he found a passion in football and according to the coaches, he is one of the hardest working athletes on the field.
Last year, he joined Sullivan’s The Phoenix Class and through his senior year, he has had the best grades of his high school career. Keefe is currently going through the final stages of acceptance for Kansas State.
Meghan Tesch was honored by her Thunderridge Administrative Dean and Center Based Program Director, Marshawn Yuhas.
Tesch underwent several surgeries to correct her hip dysplasia in order for her hip to move properly. Although she had the option to do school from home, she persevered and used crutches and a scooter around school.
When her family thought Tesch’s surgeries were done, they discovered one night in the emergency room that she had a grapefruit sized cyst and was given a 5% chance of survival. One day after her surgery, she was back to school where is was also a peer counselor.
Tesch will be attending the University of Nebraska where she will be studying chemistry in hopes to become a forensic scientist.
Although Aloukika Patro from Douglas County High School was not able to make the ceremony,
School counselor Amy Boyce told her story.
Patro was born in India with Caudal Regression Syndrome, meaning she was born with no lower limbs. When she was in third grade, her parents migrated to the U.S. and Patro experienced independence as she got a wheelchair.
Throughout her high school career, Patro started a program called Kika Coin as a way to pay it forward. If she saw someone doing a kind act, she would give them a coin and when that person saw someone doing a kind act, they would do the same.
During the pandemic, Patro set up virtual Bollywood dance lessons, worked with Kids For Peace and with retirement homes and started kindness conversations on social media. When the tragedy in Boulder hit, the first thing Patro wanted to do was to help the first responders and others in the community.
Patro will graduate with her IBDP diploma and will attend University of Colorado Lead School of Business.
“She is one small voice but that voice can be heard among the cacophony of the struggles in our community, in this country and this world,” said Boyce.