The Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation celebrated a record-breaking year of raising $7.7 million to give over 2,330 scholarship to Marine and Navy Corpsmen Families with some of their scholarship participants during their announcement ceremony and reception at the Marine Barracks Washington Aug. 1.

The Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation gives scholarships to students to pursue their dreams of post-high school education. As the price of a college education increases, the foundation strives to make sure all Marine Families can send their children to college without the heavy financial burden.

"Our mission is more than just a good cause. It is a responsibility to uphold the high standards of the Corps that they grew up within their households," Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation president and CEO, retired Lt. Gen. Robert Ruark said in his remarks. "It is a responsibility to build a better future for our country by investing in those values which are always in demand and it is responsibility to spend every single dollar from our investors wisely and to keep our promise to every eligible Marine Family that we will leave no qualified student behind and to always be Semper Fidelis."

According to the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation website, children of active duty, Reserve, veteran Marines as well as Gold Star children with at least a 2.00 GPA, who are attending or plan on attending a school on the National Center for Education Statistic's College Navigator website are eligible to apply between January and March. Students are also able to send in an application to renew their for a scholarship for each of the four years they pursue their undergraduate education. Scholarship applications are reviewed, and winners are notified by the end of May.

Ruark stated recipients attend 912 colleges, including universities and career technical education programs; studying 200 different subjects, 45 percent of them studying STEM and Health Science disciplines; and 50 percent being the first generation from their family to attend college.

The ceremony was not only about announcing the dollar amount of scholarships, but also about celebrating the students' accomplishments and the values they carry in themselves of honor, courage, and commitment.

"With their abilities in and out of the classroom, they have tremendous futures in front of them due to the parents who raise them on the values of honor, courage, and commitment," Rurak said. "When you talk to them they also view it as their responsibility to uphold those core values."

One of the keynote speakers, Medal of Honor Recipient Sgt. Dakota Meyer, also made a point to remind the students about the title they will carry as a scholarship recipient and a future leader of America.

"You are sitting here tonight because your mother or father has earned the title United States Marine," he said. "But the question you need to ask yourself every single day is what did you do to today to earn the title marine scholarship recipient.

"You are going to be the future leaders of America. You are going to be the next doctors to cure cancer, the next CEO of a major corporation, the next technician that is going to use technology to grow America's future industries, the next president of the United States. Your impact on America's future is critical.

"Everyday when it gets tough that with that title (of Marine Corp Scholarship Recipient) comes a responsibility, so tonight I encourage you all to be the best you every single day."

Pentagram Staff Writer Abigail Kelly can be reached at akelly@dcmilitary.com.