INA, Ill. – Officials from Rend Lake College, the Rend Lake College Foundation and Continental Tire the Americas met earlier this week at the Ina campus to announce this year’s recipients of CTA scholarships to attend RLC.
The local high school students selected are Joseph Marlo of Sesser, Emma Moreton of Dahlgren and Cheyenne Morgan of Mount Vernon. They met on Monday with RLC President Terry Wilkerson, RLC Foundation CEO Shawna Hall and CTA Mount Vernon Plant Manager Benny Harmse. Each scholarship is worth $900, generated from earnings on a $100,000 endowment gifted to the RLCF years ago by CTA.
“I’m sure everyone at CTA who has a part in this – from Benny to his selection team – feels gratified by what they are doing with these scholarships,” said Wilkerson. “Joe, Emma and Cheyenne are high-caliber young adults. I congratulate them and I wish them success. These scholarships are for the family of CTA employees. It’s a program that shows great corporate character and Rend Lake College continues to be a proud training partner of Continental Tire.”
Harmse, pronounced harm-zey, took over as CTA’s plant manager in Mount Vernon in 2009. He sits on the RLCF Board of Directors, so he sees the impact scholarships make for hundreds of students each year at the college.
“We really want to be the employer of choice, which is why we try to be involved as much as possible with the community,” Harmse said of CTA’s scholarship support. “We are always hiring additional people, so this is development toward the future for us.”
Morgan is the daughter of Jeremy and Tonya Morgan. She played softball at Mount Vernon Township High School and wants to help children as a psychologist or social worker. She wants to pursue a master’s degree in the field.
Moreton’s goal is to earn her associate degree in nursing at RLC and transfer to a four-year program. The daughter of Timothy and Jessica Moreton, Emma is very active in her community and was involved in Interact, math honor society Mu Alpha Theta, Beta Club, Pep Club and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes while a student at Hamilton County Senior High School.
Marlo was also busy with several extra-curricular activities in high school, including National Honor Society, Student Council, Alpha Peer Leaders, Math Team, Distinguished Alumni Committee and FCA. He also served as Speaker of the House on Youth and Government, and was a member of State Rep. John Bradley’s Youth Advisory Board.
To qualify for a CTA scholarship, applicants must have a parent working at the plant. In Marlo’s case it’s his dad, David, who has worked there for more than 30 years.
“He has worked there my entire life, so [CTA] ... is how we [financially] get through life,” Joseph said. “It’s really nice that they have helped us even more by helping me to go to college.”
His mother, Cathy Marlo, said the scholarship is a “Godsend” for the family of a pre-med major who is the oldest of four boys.
“He has some pretty ambitious academic goals and we support him in that,” she said. “But there is only so much we can do financially, so with any help we can get we are very grateful and very pleased.”
“I think Rend Lake is a great opportunity,” Joseph added. “You have dual credit through high school. Then you are able to come here with an easy transition that’s really good for students who are nervous about college.”
Harmse said education is very important to CTA.
“We push education hard and I think it’s important we support our employees,” he said. “...We offer free tuition for associates degrees to all our employees, on site.”
“CTA provides three of the largest scholarships the Foundation handles each year,” said Hall. “The applicant field is highly competitive and the selection team has the tough job of narrowing them down to three recipients each spring. The scholarships help alleviate financial need and give students the opportunity to accomplish their educational goals. It is both RLC and CTA’s hope that the students will return home to live and work in the area once they’ve accomplished those goals, and that they will be productive members of our communities.”