The CAN DO Community Foundation honored seven area high school students who received the 2019-20 Edgar L. Dessen Community Service Award scholarships during the Junior Leadership Hazleton graduation ceremony on March 8.
Alexis Colecio, Amanda Colecio, Antonio Colecio and Kelly Royer, all of Weatherly Area High School; Maxwell Schwabe of Marian High School; Zander Spear of MMI Preparatory School and Kyra Zabretsky of Hazleton Area Academy of Sciences were all selected as Dessen Scholars and received a scholarship to participate in the Junior Leadership Hazleton program. CAN DO President Kevin O'Donnell gave a presentation to the students during the graduation ceremony.
The Edgar L. Dessen Community Service Award was established in 2001 to honor CAN DO’s founder, Dr. Edgar L. Dessen, and mark the organization’s 45th anniversary. The scholarship is facilitated annually by the CAN DO Community Foundation. Since its inception, the award has been given to more than 90 students to attend Junior Leadership.
The Dessen scholarship recognizes area high school students and their volunteer efforts in the community. Through the award, a scholarship to Junior Leadership Hazleton is awarded to eligible high school students to further their experience in service and learning leadership and teamwork skills.
Nancy Stasko, CAN DO Community Foundation secretary and board member, said, “For the past 17 years, the Dessen scholarship has encouraged students to become active in their community and become more self-confident as they prepare for college and beyond,” she said. “I have been honored to chair the Dessen selection committee since its inception. On behalf of the CAN DO Community Foundation, I’d like to congratulate all the members of this year’s Junior Leadership Hazleton graduating class. I’d like to extend a special thank you to Michael and Jane Dougherty and the Junior Leadership board of directors and advisors and would like to acknowledge this year’s other Dessen selection committee members, Charles Burkhardt, Lani Drobnock and Elaine Judd.”
Through their experience as Dessen Scholars with the Junior Leadership Hazleton program, the students all expressed how much they grew as leaders, gained valuable networking and teamwork skills and learned about the history of Hazleton.
Alexis Colecio said, “Thank you for the recognition of the Dessen Scholar Award. Being a part of Junior Leadership Hazleton has built on my leadership skills and expanded my network of resources to better serve my community in the future.”
Amanda Colecio said, “I would like the thank the CAN DO Community Foundation for the Dessen Scholar Award. While having the opportunity to be in Junior Leadership, I was able to network and learn about the history of Hazleton and my community. These opportunities will help me be a successful leader in the future.”
Antonio Colecio said, “I just want to thank the CAN DO Community Foundation for the opportunity of being selected as one of the Dessen Scholar recipients. It was a great honor to be chosen to participate in Junior Leadership Hazleton and this will help me throughout my career of being a leader. It has taught me a lot about government, Hazleton history and teamwork skills. This is something I’ll never forget.”
Royer said, “The Junior Leadership Experience is educational, interactive and fun – overall something I will never forget. Getting the chance to participate in Junior Leadership Hazleton and being chosen as a Dessen Scholarship recipient was a great honor.”
Schwabe said, “I'd like to thank Junior Leadership Hazleton and the CAN DO Community Foundation for a great year. This was an unbelievable experience. I'm glad I was able to learn about the history of our great city. Another amazing opportunity was getting a look from behind the scenes of our outstanding local organizations and businesses.”
Spear said, “My journey in Junior Leadership has been an eye-opening experience. Within this program, I was given the opportunity to meet other students, interact with various community leaders and learn about the other local communities that comprise Greater Hazleton. Junior Leadership has given me a better appreciation of what our local community has to offer and this will help me to have a better understanding of leadership roles that can help guide me in the future. I would also like to thank the CAN DO Community Foundation for their very generous sponsorship of the Dessen Scholars.”
Zabretsy said, “Simply being a part of Junior Leadership Hazleton was an honor, let alone also being named one of the seven Dessen Scholars; this is something I am incredibly thankful for. The leadership skills and opportunities that have been given to me through this program are a blessing. It’s truly like nothing I have ever done before. I made friendships that will last a lifetime and I know this program, along with all of the people involved and the Hazleton area in its entirety, will be a part of me forever. Thank you!”