Carver Birthplace Association awards scholarship, honors longtime member

Seth Kinker
Neosho Daily News

This year marks the 19th year for the George Washington Carver Birthplace Memorial Scholarship that is sponsored by the Carver Birthplace Association (CBA) and on Jun. 7, the CBA presented the local award winner with a scholarship.

The CBA is a nonprofit cooperating association and friends’ group that provide support for the George Washington Carver National Monument and offers the scholarship to help perpetuate Carver’s legacy.

This year, the program was expanded to allow for two winners, one from the local area and one from the Kansas City area with both recipients receiving $1,000, $500 per semester, with the funds coming from donations from the community.

Kendra Nungaray, a Verona High School senior, was awarded the local scholarship from a pool of 31 applicants from Berry, Jasper, Newton and McDonald counties.

From left to right:  Blake Hierholzer (Clark Funeral Homes), Dan Hierholzer (Clark Funeral Homes), Kim Mailes (CBA Chair), Russell Hively (CBA Scholarship Committee), Lana Henry (CBA Scholarship Chair), scholarship recipient Kendra Nungaray, Ryan Sheffield (CBA Scholarship Committee), Michele Hansford (CBA Board), Jina Scott (General Manager - Townplace Suites by Marriott Joplin), Shannon Barstow (Dir. of Sales - Townplace Suites by Marriott Joplin), Randall Becker (Chief of Interpretation, George Washington Carver National Monument). on Jun. 7.

“There were many super qualified candidates,” said Lana Henry, Chair of the CBA Scholarship Committee on Jun. 7 “The final choice seemed to come down to someone who fit the variety and characteristics of Dr. Carver's life, when we put it all together, Kendra came to the top.”

“I’m an old English teacher. When I went through them, I sat on the couch and read all of them, and I would put them in the pile.” said Russell Hively, a member of the CBA Scholarship Committee. “Kendra’s was on top. Something in it clicked. She’s from a small school, which I’m from, and what she said in her essays was good. Besides going to school, and all of these things she can do, she’s going to work too. I admire that. That’s the way my family got to go to school.”

The scholarship program recognizes educational excellence and outstanding service in honor of Carver, an educator, scientist and humanitarian, and is designed to inspire the creative minds of young people who are seeking a post high school education in Science, Arts, Agriculture, Music or Education.

Nungaray had to submit her planned major, extracurricular activities, honors, awards, leadership experience, why she was seeking the scholarship and two essays on the Quaker saying, “Let your life speak” and describing her volunteerism and lessons learned from community service.

“I think life speaks in many ways,” said Nungaray on her first essay. “I’ve grown up with not an easy childhood, it’s been hard at some points. I feel like all of those points have pushed me to be better. My parents have pushed me in every way, too.”

“It was really fun helping my community, especially the senior community,” added Nungaray, who will be going into the medical field. “All the stories they told me helped me see how much life has changed.”

Nungaray has always enjoyed being around babies and will be attending the nursing program at Crowder College to work towards becoming a labor and delivery nurse.

This year’s scholarships were presented in honor of Kay Hively, a longtime CBA member and supporter who passed away in 2020.

“She meant so much to our community, our association and the friends of fish hatchery,” said Henry on Jun. 7. “She would be so so happy with what were doing today in her honor. Kay was a staple of this national park for decades. She helped put together important research we’ve used at the national park for years and is still affecting the interpretation and education programs going forward today. She produced things that helped move us forward, she was a mover and shaker.”

“Kay would’ve been proud,” added her husband, Russell, at the scholarship presentation ceremony on Jun. 7. “Education was important (to her).”

Russell said that they got involved with the CBA shortly after moving to the area in 1975.

“We started coming and liked the place,” said Russell. “Kay was the kind of person that got involved in things and that’s why (we got involved).”