2010 Commissary Scholarship recipients Amber White (l to r), Hanna Solem, Strom Sharrett, Shannon Touhy, Rhianna Neal, Andrew French and Michael Soliman await the awarding of pins and certificates during a ceremony July 29.

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Finding money for college can be a challenge during a difficult economy. For eight Joint Base Lewis-McChord youths, financing their education just became easier thanks to the award of the 2010 Commissary Scholarship Program July 29.

Awardees Storm Sharrett, Andrew French, Michael Soliman, Rhianna Neal, Alexander Stoner, Hannah Solem, Amber White and Shannon Tuohy were presented with certificates and pins denoting winning scholarships at the JBLM McChord Field Commissary during a morning banquet with their families.

JBLM Lewis Main Store Director Gene Lantz said all of the recipients deserved the recognition.

"I love this program," Lantz said. "I'm really proud of these young folks."

Scholastic merit, personal drive and well-written essays garnered the eight awardees this year's scholarships, he said.

From astrophysics to music, awardees plan to put the scholarships to good use.

Awardee Shannon Tuohy said she plans to put her scholarship to use pursuing a medical degree.

"It's been very much a blessing," Tuohy said of the award.

Hannah Solem said that with her father deployed to Iraq, the scholarship lessens the family's concerns when he returns.

"I'm looking forward to completing my education," Solem said.

Not all of the awardees were on hand for the festivities.

Stoner, who plans to be a pharmacist, was unable to attend because she was in a critical college class at Oregon State University at the same time as the ceremony.

Stoner's father, Bruce Stoner, spoke on her behalf.

"My wife and I are very proud of Alexandra's accomplishments," Stoner said.

JBLM Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Matt Barnes congratulated recipients on a job well done.

"I know about all of the work and dedication that you have put forward," Barnes said. "We should also give special thanks to the parents of these young men and women."

Reviewing more than 130 application packets was a difficult process, he said.

"DeCA does a huge amount of good, not just through scholarships, but across the board for joint base service members," Barnes said.

Defense Commissary Agency's Dawn Meeds said the support of the military community and sponsors makes the scholarship possible.

"Without them, this wouldn't happen," Meeds said.

Throughout the years, DeCA scholarships have been given to 5,000 students for a total of more than $3 million, she said.

Rick Wood is a reporter with Joint Base Lewis-McChord's weekly newspaper, the Northwest Guardian.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16