The Ryan Clark Scholarship and Community Service Award has been established in honor of Ryan Clark, a victim of the April 16, 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech.
Clark, scheduled to graduate in May 2007 as a triple major in biology, psychology and English, is remembered for his countless hours of volunteering and community service.
Julie Miller, Columbia County Community Connections executive director, started planning for this award about a year after the tragedy.
"Something about it struck me that we should do something," Miller said. "I was impressed with what I had heard about Ryan, always wonderful things."
Miller first wrote a letter to Letitie Clark, Ryan's mother, about establishing a scholarship in honor of her son. Miller wanted to know if Letitie Clark was willing to work with Community Connections.
"When you honor Ryan, you honor me," said Letitie Clark in an e-mail. "I am humbled and confirmed by my community, that the sacrifices parents make for their children is what a parent should do."
Security Federal Bank in Evans, Ga. is also co-sponsoring the scholarship with Community Connections. The bank was excited to get involved with this scholarship, according to Branch Manager Connie Redmond.
"Ryan was known for his community service," Redmond said. "Whether it was around here or in his church. We hope that this will encourage other students to follow his legacy."
The scholarship will be available to students' ages 14-19 in Richmond and Columbia Counties in Georgia. Qualified candidates believe in community service and exhibit that quality in their own lives. Candidates for the scholarship desire to encourage others to volunteer, serving as leaders in their peer groups. They are expected to be bright, energetic and generous in their nature, all qualities that Ryan Clark embodied.
"My hopes are that Ryan and the good that he did will inspire others to follow his example," Letitie Clark said. "That young people will see the importance of education, volunteering and the rewards that can come from giving yourself."
Miller hopes that the $1,000 scholarship will be given to two students: one from Richmond County and another from Columbia County. As of Sept. 2 they have already received contributions for the scholarship, and are halfway to their goal.
Miller and Letitie Clark worked together to comprise a six-person committee, with equal representation from both counties. The committee members from Richmond County are Mayor Deke Copenhaver, state representative Quincy Murphy and businessman Ben Johnson. Committee members from Richmond County include retired principal of Blue Ridge Elementary School Joyce Long, Lakeside High teacher Marsie Anderson and County Commissioner Scott Dean.
"The scholarship and community service award sponsored by Columbia County Community Connections and Security Federal Bank are ways of keeping Ryan's spirit alive," Letitie Clark said. "He is happy that his commitment to service may be a positive influence for others."