Pictured at the presentation of the Self-Reliance Awards are (L to R), seated: recipients Marilyn Park, Shanna Miller, Yesenia Giron and Maria Salazar; standing: Lewis Jones, president, Warsaw Rotary; Harvey Miller, Rotarian; recipients Sam Smyth and Tiffany Shepherd; Laura Kaufman, chair of the selection committee; Erica Zuniga, recipient; Andy Beauchamp, Beauchamp & McSpadden; David Walenga, recipient; and Bill Jefferies, Beauchamp & McSpadden. Photo by M.J. Rhodes, Times-Union
Pictured at the presentation of the Self-Reliance Awards are (L to R), seated: recipients Marilyn Park, Shanna Miller, Yesenia Giron and Maria Salazar; standing: Lewis Jones, president, Warsaw Rotary; Harvey Miller, Rotarian; recipients Sam Smyth and Tiffany Shepherd; Laura Kaufman, chair of the selection committee; Erica Zuniga, recipient; Andy Beauchamp, Beauchamp & McSpadden; David Walenga, recipient; and Bill Jefferies, Beauchamp & McSpadden. Photo by M.J. Rhodes, Times-Union
Warsaw Rotary Club presented the First Annual Beauchamp & McSpadden Self-Reliance Awards Friday.

The Self-Reliance Awards are designed to honor graduating Warsaw Community High School seniors who have overcome difficult life circumstances through self-reliance and doing their best. All WCHS seniors are eligible to apply for the award, with the exception of those who are children of Rotary members.

The awards included $250 to each of the eight finalists, plus an extra $750 to the first-place winners, and $250 to the second-place winners.
Tiffany Shepherd received first place. A senior at WCHS, she has excelled at school and at work, with little family support. She excelled at track in all four years of high school, while working at Domino's Pizza, Warsaw. She has worked her way up to an assistant manager, and has been offered the opportunity to manage her own store upon graduation, which she plans to take advantage of, and also will attend IPFW.

Second place was shared by Samuel Smyth and David Walenga, both WCHS seniors.

Smyth was born legally blind, but demonstrated the self-reliance and perseverance to excel both academically and in sports. He takes the initiative to adapt materials to suit his learning needs, and also volunteers to help other visually impaired students become more independent. He aggressively participated in wrestling and football, and plans to attend Manchester College in the fall and play football at the college level. Majoring in chemistry and education, he plans to teach science, with an interest in becoming a special needs teacher.

Walenga was born with a congenital condition that caused both of his hands and feet to be split. After undergoing many painful treatments and surgeries and still experiencing some pain and discomfort, he has participated in football and wrestling, and was a four-year member of the Warsaw Area Rugby Team. He also has been very active in the Warsaw Building Trades program. He plans to attend Indiana State University and major in construction management technology.

The other five finalists were:

n Yesenia Giron, who moved to the United States from Mexico with her mother and six siblings when she was 6 years old. Her accomplishments include learning to understand English and using her bi-lingual skills to help others.

n Maria Salazar also overcame language barriers after moving to the United States when she was in elementary school. Not only does she serve as a translator for other family members, she gives part of her income from her job at Steak 'N' Shake to help her mother and siblings with living expenses, and helps her father in Mexico with medical expenses.

n Shanna Miller was raised by her father until he died when she was 8 years old. After living with various family members, she became pregnant at age 14. At that point she made a decision to do things differently for her son than her mother did for her. She stayed in school when it would have been easier to quit, and she and the baby's father are committed to making a better life for themselves and their baby. She plans to attend IPFW.

n Marilyn Park has maintained a positive attitude despite a medical condition that would have been overwhelming for most adults. When a sophomore, she was told that a tumor in her leg was probably cancer. Although a biopsy proved the tumor was not cancer, she had to have surgery and treatment. She demonstrated her self reliance through participating in tennis, volleyball and basketball, babysitting for two pre-schoolers, as well as working part-time at Subway and the Justice Building through high school co-op. She plans to major in psychology at Indiana University, Bloomington, with her ultimate goal of becoming a lawyer.

n Erica Zuniga will be the first in her family to graduate from high school. She sets her own schedule for homework, chores and going to bed, paid for her own car, insurance and gas and helps her single mother with expenses as she can. Her projects for Family, Career and Community Leaders of American have won state and national recognition. She plans to attend IPFW to major in media and pubic communication.

The Self-Reliance Award was first created in 1971 by Kennedy Manufacturing, Van Wert, Ohio. When Kennedy opened a plant in Wabash, they brought the program to Wabash. In 2003, Beauchamp & McSpadden assumed the financial sponsorship for the program, working with the local Kiwanis Club as the administrator.

Beauchamp & McSpadden believe that this program is an excellent way to recognize exceptional students who have worked hard and shown their self-reliance in attaining the educational goals.

Beginning in 2007, Beauchamp & McSpadden and the Warsaw Rotary Club worked together to bring the program to Warsaw. The Rotary Club coordinates and conducts the selection process by visiting high schools, reviewing applications, interviewing applicants and organizing the award presentations. The committee members were Laura Kaufman, chair, Greg Cobb, Paul Crousore, Bill Jefferies, Mary Kittrell and Joy McCarthy-Sessing.