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Nugget awards scholarships
by Damian Tromerhauser
May 01, 2013 | 2620 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Sparks-area students (from left) Maurice Kennedy, Kaitlyn McNerney, Danielle Strozza and Hector Hernandez Mena were honored by the Ascuaga family Wednesday afternoon.
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Sparks-area students (from left) Maurice Kennedy, Kaitlyn McNerney, Danielle Strozza and Hector Hernandez Mena were honored by the Ascuaga family Wednesday afternoon.
For many adolescents, the transition from high school to college is a large stepping stone toward achieving their dreams and aspirations. On Wednesday, four students from Rail City high schools and 21 other northern Nevada students got a little help with those goals.

The John Ascuaga’s Nugget Scholarship Program helped 25 students in obtaining their college education as each senior received a $1,000 scholarship from the Ascuaga family.

“Students need these scholarship programs now more than ever,” said John Ascuaga, owner of John Ascuaga’s Nugget. “Our scholarship program has a great success rate because of the personal input we give.”

After schools come forward with two applicants, a scholarship committee reads through the transcripts, test scores and essays from each applicant. Once the final 25 are selected, they are honored with a scholarship luncheon, which took place Wednesday.

“It’s great to see everyone come together,” said Stephen Ascuaga, COO of John Ascuaga’s Nugget. “It’s great seeing this because we’ve all been there. This is a crossroads in their lives. They’re moving on from the nest and now they’re going on their own. So it’s very fulfilling to be a part of this.

“We’ll be keeping in touch with all of them over the next four years. A lot of them will reach out and keep in touch with us once they are in their occupation and doing whatever they’ve chosen. It’s just great. It’s a real positive.”
 One scholarship winner was Danielle Strozza of Spanish Springs High, who said she was honored to join the others in being recognized.

“I’m so beyond proud,” Strozza said. “I’m so glad I got this opportunity to represent my school and just be among all the other recipients.”

In the fall, Strozza will be taking classes at the University of Southern California and said the scholarship will help aid in continuing her education.

“This definitely helps just because it gives me that stable basis,” she said. “I know that I have the backing of my home state and people from here believe in me and that I can make it.”

Reed High senior Kaitlyn McNerney will also have that support system as she starts classes at the University of Nevada next fall. She said having the extra funding will certainly help as she hopes to earn a degree in computer science and engineering.

“It will help quite a bit,” McNerney said. “I think it will help me get the most out of the college experience. It’s really exciting. It makes me feel really proud that I was able to earn this. It will help a lot with going to college, which is something I’ve been working toward for a long time. I am really excited. I’ve enjoyed my four years of high school, but I’m ready to go do other stuff.”

Sparks High School was represented by a pair of seniors, Maurice Kennedy and Hector Hernandez Mena.

For Hernandez Mena, who has been accepted at the University of Nevada but is looking to continue playing soccer at a number of schools, the scholarship will be a big boost in achieving goals.

“This will absolutely help me,” Hernandez Mena said. “All of the money goes toward my education, so it will definitely help when it comes to classes. I don’t come from a very high-income family, so any money helps and this is really helpful.

“It’s great. It’s an honor to be one of the award recipients of the scholarship. We come here a lot and live close by, so to get an award from John Ascuaga is an honor.”

Maurice Kennedy was the other Railroader receiving a scholarship from the Ascuaga family. Kennedy, who will be attending UNR and plans to study business in hopes of opening his own restaurant after college, echoed the same sentiments.

“I’m really happy that I got it,” Kennedy said. “I can’t think of the right words to describe the feeling of being a recipient. It was a little unexpected, but I’m definitely glad I got it. It will help out a lot in college. Taking the first step is usually the hardest step, so any little bit will help and this scholarship helps a lot.”

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