• CGSC Marines present Poillon scholarships

  • The John W. Poillon Memorial Scholarship committee, comprised of leaders and academic professionals at Fort Leavenworth, awarded $6,500 in scholarships to five recent high school graduates in a ceremony May 21 in the Senator Pat Roberts Room of the Lewis and Clark Center.

    • email print
  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    The John W. Poillon Memorial Scholarship committee, comprised of leaders and academic professionals at Fort Leavenworth, awarded $6,500 in scholarships to five recent high school graduates in a ceremony May 21 in the Senator Pat Roberts Room of the Lewis and Clark Center.
    Scholarships ranged from $500 to $2,500. Recipients represented Leavenworth High School and Lansing High School with plans to go to four different colleges and universities around the country.
    “Each of you in your own right had exceptional accomplishments in the classroom, on the athletic field, across your interscholastic activities, community organizations and church organizations,” said Committee President Marine Col. Eric Blanchard, commanding officer of the Fort Leavenworth Marine Corps Detachment. “The level of responsibility, of leadership and selfless dedication to others while achieving such high degrees of accomplishment in academics is noteworthy.
    “You are a group of young men and women who epitomize excellence. Please never forget that,” he said. “Continue to represent your generation. Continue to represent your community. Continue to represent not only yourself, but your families in everything you do.”
    The John W. Poillon Memorial Scholarship was established in 1965 by his parents, then-Lt. Col. Arthur J. Poillon and Natalie Poillon, following John Poillon’s death from an automobile accident on the Centennial Bridge in Leavenworth. At the time, Arthur Poillon was an instructor at the Command and General Staff College. He entered the Marine Corps in 1945 and served 35 years before retiring as a major general in 1980. Natalie passed away in 1981, and Maj. Gen. Poillon passed away in December 2001.
    During the past 54 years, nearly a quarter of a million dollars in scholarships has been awarded to more than 280 high school seniors through the grant set up by the family. The CGSC Marine Corps Detachment now handles the selection and distribution each year.
    “Know that you exemplify and you are what the Poillon family were wanting 54 years ago when they originated this scholarship,” Blanchard said.
    The committee conducts a blind selection based on financial need, scholastic performance, school and civic activities and demonstrated leadership qualities, Blanchard said. The committee strives to select deserving, well-rounded students who exemplify scholarship, leadership and commitment to their communities.
    While Blanchard said the students should be proud of themselves and their accomplishments, they should not forget those who helped them get there. First, their educators.
    “(Educators are) our unsung heroes in the community — the first line of defense outside of the family network,” Blanchard said. “As an adult, when you look at a young person all you want to see is the desire and the will and the work ethic, and then you’re willing to invest into that young person.
    “Sometimes it is a lot of investment and sometimes it is not, but it doesn’t make it any less meaningful,” he said, “because there is someone out there who has taken an interest in you and has attempted to give back and pay it forward through you.”
    Page 2 of 3 - Second, their families.
    “(Parents,) your achievements are represented here today,” Blanchard said. “They may have walked the walk and they may have done the work, but I know that somewhere you were there waiting in the wings.
    “There were times when you pushed them. There were times when you picked them up,” he said. “Their accomplishment today, their recognition is also your recognition, and I hope you take a certain amount of pride in it.”
    Hunter Hotaling, 18, graduate of Lansing High School, received a $2,500 scholarship with plans to attend the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn. He said he hopes to enter the three-by-three program in his junior year, which will allow him to obtain a law degree in six years.
    “My parents say I like to argue, but also you’re able to help others who are in need,” Hotaling said. “(My parents) raised me on the principle that if you are in a situation that you’re able to give to others, it is not a ‘you can,’ it is a ‘you should,’ so it is really nice to be recognized for my work.”
    William Franklin, 18, graduate of Leavenworth High School, received a $2,000 scholarship. He plans to attend Clemson University in Clemson, S.C., where he wants to study mechanical engineering.
    “William’s desire, drawing on all the things he has learned and accomplished as a military child growing up and how he could take that and apply it to mechanical engineering and help communities grow, was very poignant and spoke to all of us on the board,” Blanchard said.
    Franklin said it meant a lot to receive the scholarship.
    “Looking at how much college is and how much work it takes to get into college, it really helps to be a recipient of this (scholarship) to help me get the education that I need to pursue what I want to,” he said.
    Ethan Robinette, 18, graduate of Leavenworth High School, received a $1,000 scholarship. He said he plans to attend the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark., to study biology in hopes of advancing to medical school and becoming an ophthalmologist.
    “I’m reading through Ethan’s package and I get to his essay and it is not too short, but not too long, very well written and very scoped in delivery about what his interest is,” Blanchard said. “This young man really understood what it is that he wanted to do and how he wanted to give back as well. That element of service really speaks to us.”
    Robinette said he has always been fascinated by the eye.
    Page 3 of 3 - “I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, and I like helping people in my community,” he said. “I feel very honored for the committee to choose me, and I feel honored to get (the scholarship) because I’ll be able to pay my community back with the money that is given to me.”
    Carolann Perry, 17, graduate of Leavenworth High School, received a $500 scholarship. Perry plans to attend the University of Arkansas to study retail supply chain management and marketing in hopes of working her way up in a major corporation.
    “Again, she is someone who knows who they are, works hard to get where they’ve been, knows what they want to do in the future, and has a well laid out plan in order to get there,” Blanchard said.
    Perry said getting this scholarship was special.
    “I’ve always grown up as part of military family, so it is nice to get something from the military itself,” Perry said. “It is a more close-to-heart scholarship than any other one.”
    Alyche Brown, 18, graduate of Leavenworth High School, received a $500 scholarship and plans to attend Rogers State University in Claremore, Okla. Brown is the third person in her family to receive the scholarship, following her older brother and sister who previously received it. She plans to study psychology and pre-law and eventually attend law school at Washburn University in Topeka, Kan.
    “The committee loves you. They loved your application. A little bit of a different style on the personal essay, it was more like a conversation than it was an exposé. I felt like I was having a conversation with Alyche,” Blanchard said. “You’re a community-centric, giving and protecting type of individual who wants to help those who couldn’t help themselves… I can’t think of any better quality for a lawyer to have than to want to be able to fight and protect those who are in a time of need.”
    Brown said she was excited to follow in her siblings’ footsteps and receive the scholarship.
    “It just helps a lot with college, adding on and making stuff easier,” she said.
    Blanchard had one final piece of advice for the awardees.
    “Cherish your education,” he said. “Remain a lifelong learner. It will bode well for you in the future.”
  • Comment or view comments