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GCSS names five students to 2022 REACH cohort

December 24, 2021 - 00:00
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  • Article Image Alt Text
    Christopher with parents.
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    Vaquaria with sponsor.
  • Article Image Alt Text
    Aziah with sponsor.
  • Article Image Alt Text
    Mia with sponsor.
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    Taylor with sponsor.

The Greene County School System (GCSS) has named five eighth-grade students to this year’s class of REACH Georgia Scholarship recipients.

A’Ziah Dolvin, Va-Quaria Dunn, Mia Mauriello, and Taylor Waller from Anita White Carson Middle School and Christopher Arrue from Lake Oconee Academy make up the GCSS’s fifth class of REACH scholars since the school system joined the program in 2017 under the guidance and encouragement of Mr. Tom Kelly, the co-founder with his wife Kathy of the Greensboro Dreamers.

REACH scholars are selected in eighth grade via a rigorous application and interview process and must demonstrate an interest in higher education and a verified financial need. By signing their REACH scholarship commitment papers, the scholars agree to maintain good grades and attendance, abstain from drugs and alcohol, and meet with their academic coaches and mentors regularly throughout high school.

Once enrolled in one of the 29 public four-year colleges, 22 technical colleges, or 35 private four-year colleges that participate in Georgia’s REACH program, REACH students must continue to meet attendance and GPA requirements to maintain their scholarships.

The funding for each GCSS REACH scholarship stems from private donations by Greene County individuals, companies and organizations. Each local donor sponsors a REACH scholarship with a contribution of $2,500, which the state matches with $7,500 and many participating postsecondary schools donate $10,000-$20,000 for each student.

When this funding is combined with Georgia’s HOPE scholarship and Federal Pell grants, each REACH scholar could be eligible to receive up to $77,380 to finance a four-year degree at a Georgia college.

Working with communities across the state that are focused on student-centered learning, REACH Georgia will partner with over 160 local school systems this year, and together they will serve over 3,000 scholars. Over the past seven years, the generous philanthropy of local communities has resulted in over $5,000,000 contributed to serving scholars across Georgia.

Let’s meet this year’s class of GCSS REACH Georgia Scholars:

A’Ziah Dolvin is an eighth-grader at Anita White Carson Middle School, and her REACH scholarship is sponsored by the Friends and Family of Derry Drake. In college, A’Ziah plans to possibly study graphic design at the Savannah College of Art and Design, which she describes as her ‘dream school.’ In her free time, she is involved with dance and cheerleading, the TOME Society book club, art club, and band, among many other activities. She also participates in UGA Leadership.

A’Ziah says her mother is her biggest inspiration: “I admire her because she is always helping someone in need. When I need help with anything, she comes without a doubt. She is one of the best people I know,”.

“A’Ziah’s high standards, kindness and generosity exude the very essence of a student who is deserving of the REACH Scholarship,” said Beth Thomas, the GCSS REACH Scholarship Coordinator. “She offers a helping hand in any situation and engages in meaningful conversations.”

Va-Quaria Dunn is an eighth-grader at Anita White Carson Middle School, and her REACH scholarship is sponsored by Tom and Kathy Kelly. In college, Va-Quaria plans to attend the University of Georgia as a pre-med major with the goal of becoming a pediatrician. In her free time, she is involved in FFA and the Keystone Torch Club at the Pete Nance Boys & Girls Club.

“I think that REACH will push me to be the best Va-Quaria I can be,” she said, “but mostly it will benefit me by giving me bigger and better opportunities.”

“Va-Quaria has an infectious enthusiasm about learning; she has a good sense of humor and possesses exemplary leadership skills,” Thomas said. “She is motivated and has a desire to help others and give back to the community.”

Christopher Arrue is an eighth-grader at Lake Oconee Academy, and his REACH Scholarship is sponsored by the Lake Oconee Academy Foundation. Christopher plans to attend UGA or Harvard University to study technology with the goal of becoming a game developer. In his free time, Christopher plays soccer and enjoys drawing.

Christopher said he looks up to his grandpa, who passed away a year ago: “I admire him because since I was a kid, he’s pushed me to my limit,”.

“Christopher shows resolve in his goals and displays confidence when self-advocating to his mentors,” Thomas said. “His ability to self-advocate is a reflection of his desire to be a mature, responsible student and leader in his community.”

Mia Mauriello is an eighth-grader at Anita White Carson Middle School, and her REACH scholarship is sponsored by The Rotary Club of Greene and Putnam Counties. Mia plans to attend Georgia College and State University like her older brother Alberto, who is a Greensboro Dreamer and Marine Corps Officer. She would like to study middle grades education.

“I want to be a teacher because I want to make a real difference in children’s lives and because I love being a part of a learning environment,” she said.

In her free time, Mia likes to play soccer, is involved in FFA, ATLAS, and volunteers at Grace Fellowship Church. She said she looks up to her older sister, who she admires because she has already overcome many of the same obstacles that Mia will also need to overcome in order to be successful.

“Mia is always willing to be challenged and pursue growth; there have been many occasions that she has stepped up to serve without needing to be asked,” Thomas said. “Mia works diligently and cooperates well with others.”

Taylor Waller is an eighth-grader at Anita White Carson Middle School, and her REACH scholarship is sponsored by the Lake Oconee Elks Lodge 2849. Taylor plans to attend Georgia Southern University, the University of Georgia or Spelman College to study criminal justice.

“I chose this because I love to debate, and I can be very persuasive,” she said.

In her free time, Taylor is involved in FFA as vice president and has received a citation award from the National FFA Organization. She also participates in UGA Leadership, ATLAS, and the Pete Nance Boys and Girls Club. Taylor said she looks up to chef Alex Guarnaschelli and would love to have the opportunity to work with her one day.

“Taylor has an awesome spirit and attitude; when she sets a goal for herself, she will do what needs to be done to achieve that goal,” Thomas said. “Taylor is very dependable, kind-hearted and cares about others.”