Last night the Bernie Scholarship Awards Program recognized awardees at a dinner and ceremony in the Executive Office Building. Of the 38 scholarship recipients, ten live in Rockville. Before each recipient was individually recognized, they all received a standing ovation of support.
Bernie Scholarships provide financial assistance for college or training programs to graduating high school seniors or other adults who live in subsidized housing in Montgomery County either at Housing Opportunities Commission (HOC) properties, the Scotland Community, Forest Park Apartments, Rockville Housing Enterprises properties, or Edgewood Management Corporation properties.
During one of the personal messages from an awardee, a young woman named Serena told the story of how she and her mother had all of their possessions put in a field when they were evicted. Not even able to salvage half of their belongings, they slept in the car that night, then watched what hadn’t been taken by others carted away in a garbage truck the next morning. After nine months in a shelter, they found a home with HOC. Aware of such issues as homelessness, poverty, and mental illness, she started a discussion group at her high school. Now, headed to the University of Maryland Baltimore County, she plans to study biological engineering to design prosthetics.
“I never thought being homeless when I was younger would lead to me receiving a scholarship today , but thank you,” said Serena.
Of her life experiences of being homeless, Serena expressed a positive attitude, “Because I am so grateful for the wisdom and strength they provided me in becoming the young woman I am today. Thank you for honoring all of us.”
The scholarship program was established to honor Bernard Tetreault for his 24 years of service to HOC. Funding is provided by private donors which is overseen by a volunteer board of directors.
“That’s my vision for people who live in affordable housing,” Tetreault is quoted as saying. “To look them in the eye and say, ‘You go to college; we’ll find some way to do it.’ “