FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Over the years, the Fort Rucker Community Spouses Club has helped hundreds of students achieve their educational goals by providing more than $250,000 in scholarships, and it continues that tradition by adding to that amount with this year's scholarship awards.

The spouses club honored 14 students by awarding $14,000 in scholarships and grants during a ceremony at the Allen Heights Community Center May 7 where FRCSC continued its commitment to Fort Rucker youth, according to Elesa Johnson, FRCSC scholarship chair.

"It has been said that the military child is a lot like a dandelion," said Johnson during the ceremony. "The plant puts down roots almost anywhere, and it's almost impossible to destroy."

Col. Michael Best, Aviation Center Logistics Command commander, was on hand to congratulate the students and offer words of advice before scholarship were awarded.

"Tonight, we celebrate and honor these students who have demonstrated academic excellence," he said. "This is a great time to recognize the hard work in the classroom, and it's paid off -- every scholarship counts. It's you (the students) who made this happen with your persistence and hard work through you external and internal motivation."

Best encouraged the awardees to remember three constants that they'll endure throughout their lives -- change, choice and principles.

"Change is not always a bad thing, though at times it makes us feel extremely uncomfortable," said the colonel. "Understanding where you, as students, are trying to go will help you shape those situations and bring those changes to your advantage. It may open doors for you or may put you on a different (path) than you first thought."

Choices are the second constant that Best said the students will have learn to navigate as they continue through their educational journey.

"You'll be overwhelmed by the number of choices you'll make as you enter your first week of college," he said. "The magnitude of those choices will only increase and those choices we make define who we are and define the path that we take. The choices from here forward do not get any easier, and we need to accept this constant and we need to make those choices in the best interest of our mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being."

Best said they shouldn't be afraid to seek help when making difficult decisions because being able to take advice will be critical to their growth.

"Everyone is going to tell you that your independence now is critical, but I would say that your interdependence is just as important," he said. "Find a mentor, a friend -- someone who can help you navigate the tough choices that are ahead of you."

Finally, Best advised that the students remain loyal to their principles.

"This is the one constant that will remain constant," he said. "You know the difference between right and wrong. Don't let the world around you change your convictions. Stay true to yourself and what you have been taught and how you've been raised."

Funds for this year's scholarships were raised through community events hosted by the spouses club, such as the annual Hollyday Bazaar that brings together small businesses on Fort Rucker to share their wares and services within the community, said the scholarship chair. Additional funding is provided by local sponsors, such as the Fort Rucker Thrift Shop, First Command and Edward Jones.

Awardees were determined through an application process where each applicant underwent a double-blind assessment process with each identified only by a number.

"Thanks to our anonymous judges and detail-oriented committee, we are able to assist these highly deserving students reach their education goals," said Johnson.