The Sacramento Pioneer Association – a 159-year-old organization that was founded by early prominent Sacramentans such as Gov. John Bigler, C.P. Huntington, Mark Hopkins, August Heilbron, B.F. Hastings and Dr. John Frederick Morse – is presently offering history themed scholarships for high school students.
During an interview with this publication last week, River Park resident Monica Pope, the association’s president, shared details regarding the organization’s scholarship opportunities.
“About 10 years ago, we began presenting scholarships to high school students who were passionate about the history of our region,” Pope said. “These scholarships are available once a year and are awarded at our annual pioneer dinner every March.”
Pope added that the scholarship review committee looks for the students’ degree of commitment and personal growth as a result of volunteering, and authenticity in the interest of the volunteer endeavor.
The scholarships are available to junior and senior students in high schools in the Greater Sacramento area who have volunteered at museums that promote the history of Sacramento and surrounding regions.
These scholarships, which are in the amount of $500 each, are designed to be used for the recipients’ future historical education pursuits.
Pope said that the association is eager to spread the word about the scholarships, so more students have the opportunity to compete for these scholarships.
Since the establishment of the association’s scholarship program, about 20 area students have been awarded scholarships, and no more than two scholarships have been presented in a single year.
The most recent recipients of the award were Sacramentans Amanda Wong and Marie Milan.
Wong, who volunteered as a historical interpreter at the 2011 Gold Rush Days in Old Sacramento and became a docent at the California State Railroad Museum in 2012, was inspired by her grandfather to study California history.
In her pioneer scholarship essay, Wong, in regard to a positive history research related experience with her grandfather, wrote: “We had never bonded until our shared love for American history was revealed. One night, I was preparing for a presentation on the Chinese influence on the Gold Rush when my grandfather arrived. As I explained to him my activities, he surprised me with his prior knowledge. It surpassed mine completely. We begun (sic) to talk and debate our interpretations and realized that we shared very similar passions. After that, the similarities began to pile up. We found that while I was the editor in chief of my high school newspaper, he had been the editor of his college campus newspaper. Where I loved to study the impact of women on history, he loved to study the impact of the Chinese. In each other, we found kindred spirits.”
In expressing her appreciation for her time as a docent, Wong wrote: “Since I have begun volunteering with the California State Rail Road (sic) Museum, I have learned to be confident in my words. This is something that will help me in the future. I plan to go into law, where I will be called to speak before others.”
In her own essay, Milan, who served as a Sacramento History Museum volunteer, also shared details regarding her history related experiences.
Milan explained how the museum introduced her to segments of Sacramento history that she had not previously learned during her historical studies.
“Seeing the different pictures, letters and objects that surrounded me (at the museum) and represented a moment in time of Sacramento’s history, I realized I had no idea about what role (Sacramento) had in the making of California,” she wrote.
Milan made references to the importance of Sutter’s Fort and the Gold Rush in California’s history, and their significance in Sacramento’s history.
And she also explained that her experiences at the museum and working with the tour guides of the underground tours section of the museum led to a memorable moment during an underground tour.
During that particular tour, she interacting with a couple who required additional assistance to enhance their tour experience.
Regarding that moment, Milan wrote: “After having been in the museum for about six months, I was glad that I had learned so much, because that day I found out that I now truly knew my Sacramento history. As the tour went on, I told them little stories and things that I thought were most interesting, and I remember how astonished they were to find out that when the big ark storm hit in 1862, there was an inland sea that stretched almost 300 miles. That experience of being able to retell the history of Sacramento to another made me feel proud and successful for having shown this other side of Sacramento to someone else.”
In concluding her essay, Milan wrote: “I am grateful to the museum and the people there that encouraged me, because without them I wouldn’t have been able to acquire these qualities that help me in the field of engineering for which revolves around team work. Being able to talk to others and stand my ground on decisions are all things that I learned at the museum and are things that will carry on with me throughout my life.”
Essays such as the ones written by Wong and Milan are part of the requirements that must be fulfilled in order to be considered a candidate for the association’s scholarships.
All applicants must write a 500 to 1,000-word essay describing an enriching experience while volunteering for a historical organization in Sacramento. The essay must also include details regarding skills they learned during their volunteering experiences that relate to their future education and career.
Each nominee must also fill out a form that describes their interest in the cultural or natural history of the Sacramento area.
Additionally, applicants must provide one letter of recommendation from the nominator volunteer director/coordinator.
To be considered a candidate for a Sacramento Pioneer Association student volunteer history scholarship, students must fulfill the requirements for the award and submit their essay and a completed application form to the association by Dec. 10.
The scholarship winners, who will be selected by a review group committee designated by the association, will be presented their scholarship awards during the association’s annual dinner at the Sutter Club at 1220 9th St. on March 13, 2014 at 5:30 p.m.
To obtain a scholarship application, write to firstname.lastname@example.org or call Lynda Otto at (916) 447-7411.