Article in Mercer Island Reporter about the additional scholarship given to a Rainier Beach High School senior

Jan 11, 2017

The application period for Stanley Ann Dunham Scholarship is now open to college-bound senior women at Mercer Island High School. The fund awards a $5,000 scholarship to a senior woman who demonstrates a commitment to education and public service.

The scholarship is in honor of Stanley Ann Dunham, a 1960 graduate of MIHS who dedicated her life to working with marginalized communities around the world, especially women. She was also President Barack Obama’s mother. Dunham took her first anthropology course at the University of Washington and went on to earn her PhD in anthropology from the University of Hawaii.

“The Stanley Ann Dunham Scholarship is helping me become educated to help create a better tomorrow,” said 2016 recipient Rose Guttman, a freshman at the University of Washington.

After awarding 13 scholarships to senior women at Mercer Island High School in the seven years of its existence, the fund will award an additional scholarship to a female senior student at Rainier Beach High School in Seattle. The new scholarship, sponsored by an anonymous donor, fits perfectly into a structured program at Rainier Beach High School that helps seniors pursue higher education. This program, the Point of Destination Secured — known as POD — places a “pod” of five to seven seniors under the mentorship of a college student at the University of Washington’s Dream Project.

The mentors keep seniors accountable for applying to at least three colleges and for at least three scholarships. This year, the Stanley Ann Dunham Scholarship can be one of those scholarships.

Principal Keith Smith, Senior PODS Coordinator Virginia Patu and Head Counselor Dan Jurdy oversee PODS and develop close relationships with each student. These relationships have made an impact.

“PODS has been one of the main causes for the recent rise in graduation rates at Rainier Beach High School,” said Dwane Chappelle, director of education and early learning, city of Seattle and former principal of Rainier Beach High.

In 2011, 53 percent of the senior class graduated; by 2016 that number jumped to 81.5 percent.

“PODS is a program steeped in the same values that Stanley Ann Dunham championed,” said Board Member Julie Biggs. “We are thrilled to be involved.”

Naomi Moore, a 2015 scholarship recipient and a sophomore at Seattle Central Community College, described how the scholarship impacts high school seniors: “receiving a scholarship in honor of Stanley Ann Dunham is the sort of recognition that motivates students to remain committed to making an impactful difference in our own lives and those of others.”