Meade senior awarded $40K scholarship
Serena Walker, 17, a senior at Meade High School, was one of 10 Army children to be awarded a $40,000 college scholarship from Our Family for Families First Foundation, a private charitable organization founded by John G. Picerne, president and CEO of Picerne Military Housing.

Fort Meade, Md. - While researching prospective colleges, Serena Walker worried about her options for financial aid.

"In the beginning of the school year, I was very nervous about how to pay for my college education," said Serena, 17, a senior at Meade High School.

But Walker, who applied to Harvard and Yale universities, can put her concerns to rest. In March, she was one of 10 Army children to be awarded a $40,000 college scholarship from Our Family for Families First Foundation, a private charitable organization founded by John G. Picerne, president and CEO of Picerne Military Housing.

"It's amazing," said Serena, daughter of Chaplain (Maj.) Dallas Walker, officer in charge at the Northeast Chaplain Recruiting Team at Fort Meade. "When I found out, I was so happy."

The foundation awards $10,000 per year for four years to graduating seniors of active-duty Soldiers. Military children at Fort Polk, La., Fort Sill, Okla., Fort Riley, Kan., Fort Rucker. Ala., and Fort Bragg, N.C., also received a scholarship.

"I am always so moved by these students - their goals, dreams and inspiration," said Picerne in a written statement. "We are so happy to be able to make a positive impact on their lives."

Serena, who has a 4.0 GPA, will join the Air Force Reserve Officers' Training Corps at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, in the fall. In addition to the Our Family for Families First scholarship, she will receive $18,000 a year for studying Japanese while enrolled in ROTC.

"It's fantastic," said Serena's father, "especially with the high cost of education these days. It's a tremendous opportunity for her."

Our Family for Families First scholarships are based on merit and need. Applicants also submitted a 1,000-word essay on the topic, "What is the impact on your life of having a parent who is an active-duty Soldier, and how has your parent inspired you'"

Serena said that as a military child, she has learned to adapt to different situations while remaining true to herself, and her father has taught her to overcome adversity to be the best person she can be. "You should aspire to be above your situation," Serena said.

Kandice Smith, a Meade High School guidance counselor, has worked with Serena for two years. "Everybody is so proud of her," Smith said. "I can't think of any student who would deserve it more."

During her three years at Meade, Serena served for two years as the secretary of the high school's Key Club, a community service organization. Bobbi Coffman, faculty adviser of the group, called Serena a "fine person."

As executive director of Happy Helpers for the Homeless, a nonprofit organization that helps the homeless in the Baltimore-metro area, Coffman said Serena's volunteer service to the group has been priceless.

"You can really count on her," said Coffman, noting that Serena has served more than 200 volunteer hours with the group. Last year, Serena received the President's Volunteer Service Award and the Maryland Governor's Volunteer Service Award for her work with the homeless.
"I'm very happy for her," Coffman said. "She will accomplish great things in her life."

Serena, a classical pianist, said she has not yet decided upon a career path. "I'm interested in so many things," she said. "[I just need] more time to figure it out."

Page last updated Thu May 28th, 2009 at 09:50