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Children of Marines honored for academic pursuits

Due to an editing error, the article originally misstated how much was awarded to scholarships during the 2013-2014 year. 

WASHINGTON — With the sun setting on the Lincoln Memorial as a backdrop, several young adults inside the U.S. Institute of Peace were enjoying the warm glow of recognition and encouragement for their academic pursuits.

The children of United States Marines — some who were wounded, others who were killed in combat — were honored Tuesday as part of the 2013 Scholarship Announcement ceremony by the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation.

“I thought I was going to have to get more loans,” said Teara Scott, one of the honorees. The 19-year-old, who was there with her father, Staff Sgt. Kelvin Scott Sr., and 2-year-old sister Naomi, said she hopes she sets a good example for her siblings. Scott is the oldest, with four siblings and 3 stepbrothers.

She wants to show that “if you work hard, you can get a scholarship.” She uses her scholarship to help pay for her studies at George Mason University in Virginia.

The foundation is the country’s oldest and largest provider of need-based scholarships, giving out more than 30,000 of them since 1962 to children of Marines and Navy Corpsmen who have been killed or wounded, or who just have financial need.

The foundation was inspired when a Medal of Honor recipient from World War II realized he couldn’t afford to send his son to college.

“Yes, they did get together in a bar. I mean, that is the Marine Corps way. Because of that wonderful occasion up in NYC, we are now able to go from awarding those first two scholarships to [more than] 2,000 a year,” Margaret Davis, the president and CEO of the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, said during the ceremony.

More than half the students were the first in their families to go to college. Davis said the foundation is a way to honor Marines by educating their children.

“We invest in these children so they can go out and truly light the world on fire,” Davis said, with a laugh. “No pressure. But we expect and we know there will be great things from this group of very talented students. Why not? Look at how they were raised. They were raised on the Marine Corps values: honor, courage and commitment. They get it right now.”

Also in attendance was Alison Spann, the daughter of the first American killed in Afghanistan after 9/11. USMC Capt. Johnny Micheal Spann died in November 2001 while working for the CIA. Spann was nine when her father died, and is currently a senior at Pepperdine University in California, enrolled in the university’s D.C. program through the scholarship.

“I wouldn’t say pressure, but I feel like I need to make him proud and be successful and do everything in my life, because I am a reflection of him. So I want to make sure I always do things that reflect well on him,” Spann said.

Spann’s mother died a month after her father from ovarian cancer.

For the 2013-2014 year, the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation has awarded more than $6.5 million in scholarships to 2,040 students. This week’s reception in Washington was the first of four being held throughout the country.

Asha Kennedy, a senior at Florida State University studying family and child sciences, is already looking ahead to her December graduation.

“I’m deciding what’s the next step in my life. But no matter how much you plan, life happens,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy added that the reception and ceremony was a great way to connect with other military kids.

“We can check in on each other. It’s great for finding support for yourself and others. The energy is great and it’s just fantastic.”

More information: http://www.mcsf.org/

tibbetts.meredith@stripes.com

Twitter: @mjtibbs

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