(Crystal A. Proxmire, May 28, 2017)
Royal Oak, MI – Royal Oak High School senior Allison Peel thought she was being called to the counseling office to do a routine high school exit interview, but instead she was surprised by a group of people there to award her with a full ride scholarship to the college of her choice.
The Robert A. Schuele Scholarship Committee crowded into the little office to congratulate Peel, who teared up with happiness when she heard the news. “You’ve gone through a lot so far, and you’ve told us you’re not going to allow that to derail your future,” said Committee Chair Bart Tinsley. “You also made a very big statement to us that said by getting this scholarship that it would be a great blessing for your family. And that was a selfless comment and it hit home to all of us that you said that.”
Peel will be going to Central Michigan to study biology and pre-med and is hoping to go on to research pediatric cancer. “I’ve known people affected by that, I hate cancer and I want to do something about it,” Peel said.
In her application essay, Peel talked about the challenges of her life. “Throughout my life I have been faced with numerous challenges; when I was young I lived in a home where my father abandoned my mother and I. My mother had no job, no support from others, and faced numerous other difficulties while trying to raise me; as a result of this I was placed in foster care by the age of seven. I remained in a foster home for years and was not adopted until I was nearly eleven years old; while this experience left an immeasurable emotional impact on my life I will be receiving very minimal financial aid from the government due to the fact that I was adopted before the age of thirteen.
“From having such an emotionally jarring event for such a prolonged period of time, I had difficulties overcoming dysthymia throughout middle school and the first couple years of high school. However, I have decided not to let the circumstances of my past define me. Instead I choose to be dedicated, kind, optimistic, driven, and try to do as much as I can to improve the lives of those around me.
“During school I’ve tried to challenge myself, to take numerous advanced placement and honors courses while maintaining a grade point average above a 3.0. I’ve tried to become involved in many of the programs my school has to offer such as orchestra, Model United Nations, and the National Honors Society. While I do not have perfect grades, I recognize that I’ve tried my hardest in every class I’ve taken and have overcome many odds; this is why I believe I should be the recipient of the Robert A. Schuele Scholarship Award. When my adoptive father was diagnosed with cancer and began treatment while I was in tenth grade, this added more difficulties to my life and the lives of my family members. Just as we have with every other challenge we’ve faced, we persevered through this and my father is currently in remission. However we’re still feeling the aftermath of his illness today; his health is still altered, perhaps permanently, from the effects of his treatment and my father is unable to return to work. My mom is currently the only one supporting my father, herself, my two brothers, and I; we have been struggling financially for a long time. Receiving this scholarship would be one of the best blessings I could give to my family; we’ve all been through so much and I know that earning this scholarship would permanently change all of our lives for the better. If I were given the opportunity to relieve my parents of the financial turmoils of paying for my college education, I would be thankful for the rest of my life.”
The Robert A. Schuele Scholarship has been given through the Boys and Girls Clubs of Oakland and Macomb Counties for the past 8 years. It is done in honor of Robert A. Schuele, who passed away unexpectedly in 2006. Before his passing Schuele had been organizing a scholarship fund. “His goal was to rock a world. Not only one, but many if possible, Tinsley said. Tinsley was Schuele’s college roommate and business partner. He and other friends banded together, determined to help care for Schuele’s family and see that his dream of helping young people came true.
Scott Steigerwald also serves on the committee. He knew Schuele as a golfing buddy and a fellow congregant at Redeemer Lutheran Bible Church in Birmingham. “It’s been pretty emotional doing this,” Steigerwald said. “We’ve seen recipients go on to do some really great things.” Among the success stories are one who went on to be a photographer for National Geographic. Another is a genetics researcher at Wayne State University. And another is pursuing their love of geology by studying glaciers in Alaska and New Zeeland as well as rock formations in Maui. “These are students that may not have even had the chance to go to college,” he said. “And think about what the world would be missing out on if they weren’t given a chance.”
In addition to fighting cancer, Peel will be part of making the world a better place. “I believe one of the most defining issues of my generation will be combating the hateful forces in our world and in our society. We are in the midst of a time where people are being denigrated and condemned for their differences, whether that difference of a political, physical, religious, or ethical nature; we need to embrace these differences in order to achieve important innovations in our society,” she wrote in her essay. “People across the world in both the present and the past have been hurt, threatened, and even killed because of their differences. People should not have to grow up in the fear that unspeakable things could happen to them because of who they are; because of the color of their skin, because of their sexuality, or because of the religion that they practice. People should be able to live in a world where it is safe to be themselves and where it is safe to embrace their differences. Throughout my life I have, and will continue to encourage others to embrace who they are despite the challenges and hatred they may face from society. I will also continue to influence others to be kind, open minded, and accepting of other people; and I will always love and appreciate the wonderful diversity humanity has to offer, no matter where I go forth in my life. I believe through being accepting, open minded, and through striving to embrace diversity; my generation will achieve so much and will genuinely make the world a better and safer place.”
To learn more about the Boys and Girls Club of Oakland and Macomb Counties, go to https://boysandgirlsclubs.us/.
For more on the Robert A. Schuele Scholarship, visit https://www.facebook.com/RobertASchueleScholarship/