FORT BENNING, Ga., (June 12, 2013) -- The Master Sgt. Jared Van Aalst Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded to honor the memory of a fallen Special Operations warrior, announced the recipients of its scholarship program.

After a the selection process, five high school students were selected as the recipients in the second year of the Foundation's Scholarship Program. The categories were Scholar Award, for a military dependent who is a high school athlete with a 4.0 GPA; the Memorial Award for a military dependent who is a high school athlete with a 3.5 GPA or greater; and the General Award for a non-military dependent athlete with a 3.5 GPA or greater. The Foundation also awarded five additional students a $500 Merit Award.

Among the scholarship recipients are four local students and one from New Hampshire, Van Aalst's home state. The recipients are:

•Andres A. de Rojas, St. Ann Pacelli High School -- Scholar Award $3500
•Brandon Sweeney, Harris County High School -- Memorial Award $2500
•Alexis Ballesteros, Columbus High -- Memorial Award $2500
•Jonathann Randall, Northside High -- General Award $1500
•William True, Inner Lakes High School, New Hampshire -- General Award $1500
•Alex Ridley, Brookstone High School -- Merit Award $500
•Cattin O'Connor, Northside High School -- Merit Award $500
•Dereck Scott, Harris County High School -- Merit Award $500
•Marissa Nunez, Pacelli High School -- Merit Award $500
•Shelby Irwin, Harris County High School -- Merit Award $500

In the past two years, the foundation has provided scholarships to 17 high school students, totaling $22,500. The foundation will award $14,000 in total scholarship support this year, which includes an additional $1,000 that will be awarded and managed by the United Survivors Warrior Fund.

"I am honored to receive the Master Sgt. Jared Van Aalst Scholar Award for 2013," de Rojas said. "I am proud and privileged to receive an award named for a fallen Soldier who died protecting his country. This award will help reduce the financial burden that my Family will incur paying for my college education. More importantly, I will be able to pursue my dream of studying sports medicine and becoming a physical therapist."

The recipients will be recognized at the third annual MSG Jared Van Aalst Memorial Run, which will be held in downtown Columbus Sept. 7. The annual run generates community support and provides the majority of funding for the scholarship.

"Jared was a proponent of higher education and lifelong learning, and the Foundation is proud to help young men and women achieve their educational dreams, including the children of active duty service members," said Katie Van Aalst, president and founder of The MSG Jared Van Aalst Memorial Foundation. "We're grateful for the support from our local community that enabled us to provide these scholarships."

Page last updated Thu June 13th, 2013 at 00:00