The Montgomery Village Foundation (MVF) once again joined the Watkins Mill High School Parent Teacher Association (WMHS-PTSA) and Gaithersburg High School (GHS) to continue the MVF Scholarship Fund, now completing its 26th year. Since the program's inception in 1991, scholarships amounting to over $50,000 have been awarded to Village high school seniors. Through this fund, Village residents are able to show their support by encouraging student leadership and scholastic achievement while assisting graduating seniors in furthering their education. The amount available for each school is entirely determined by the amount donated by Village residents.
This year, MVF scholarships were granted to five Village students: Mahbuba Akhter and Alexander Janzen of Watkins Mill High School; and Matthew Frohman, Christopher Harris and Trinity Cyrus of Gaithersburg High School. MVF Board approved guidelines for the awards require that the applicants be Montgomery Village residents who have actively participated in and been leaders of community or civic activities, clubs or organizations, and who have demonstrated high scholastic achievement.
Mahbuba (Opy) and her family moved to the U.S. from Bangladesh just five years ago, in the hopes of improving their lives and education. Understanding the sacrifice that her parents had made in leaving their homeland so that she might have the opportunity to pursue her education in the U.S., Opy was determined to make the most of it. She excelled academically throughout her high school years, while at the same time giving of her time and talents to help others. As a National Honor Society member, she served as a student aide, tutored struggling students and organized and implemented a clothing and food drive in the Montgomery Village community. She pursued her interest in art through the Art Club and painted a canvas for Youth Art for Healing, a non-profit organization committed to providing comfort to those in healthcare environments. She also participated in a number of service projects to raise awareness and funds for patients with leukemia.
Aware of the low percentage of women in the sciences and technology, Opy was first drawn to the study of biology, but along the way, discovered her passion for chemistry, which she plans to pursue in college with the goal of becoming a research scientist. Opy will be attending Earlham College in Indiana in the fall, with the help of a generous Chemistry Department scholarship. Opy’s specific goal is to join the U.S. Marine Corps’ branch of the CBRN defense force because she wants to aid in strengthening our national security against threats. Following her time with the Marine Corps, she hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry to research an HIV cure, which, as she says, is long overdue. Meanwhile, this summer she’ll be keeping in shape for running cross country in college and also possibly participate in an Earlham sponsored backpacking trip for which she’s applied.
Alexander also excelled academically throughout his high school years as an IB Career student, with a particular interest in engineering, math and science classes, attaining honor roll all four years. One project he is particularly proud of is building a traffic light circuit in his Digital Electronics class, which he says he accomplished through “a bit of math” and a lot of critical thinking. Extracurricular activities include Watkins Mill Marching Band, Concert Band, Drumline, Boys Volleyball and Men’s Choir. He was also named to the National Honor Society and National Science Honor Society.
Alexander will be spending his summer as he has the past two summers, working as a paid summer intern in the IT Department at the U.S. Capitol, working with servers and software, computer setup and deployment and serving customers, selling merchandise in the retail store gift shop. The experience this internship includes is not only interesting, but provides valuable experience in teambuilding and professional development activities. In his spare time, some hiking and camping will provide some fun.
Inspired by Star Wars and similar space adventure films, as well as actual N.A.S.A. rocket news, Alexander plans to pursue a degree in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park. He also hopes to participate in the Air Force ROTC there and, following college, join the Air Force as an officer. Ultimately, he expects to pursue a career at an organization such as Boeing, N.A.S.A or SpaceX.
Matthew has been an outstanding student throughout his school years, taking Advanced Placement classes along with a dual enrollment business program at Montgomery College. He was named to the honor roll and received a Varsity Athlete Award all four years at Gaithersburg, was active in the National Honor Society, Rho Kappa Honor Society, Robotic Club and more.
Outside of his academic accomplishments, Matthew swam on the Varsity Swim Team all four years, as well as played Varsity Lacrosse his junior year. He excels in swimming and not only swims with the Lake Marion Lasers Swim Team, but mentors and teaches swimming to youngsters on the team, working summers as a lifeguard for MVF. He is also an accomplished pianist and performs community service playing for seniors in retirement homes.
In addition, Matthew somehow found time to create a cybersecurity business in his junior year, and in partnership with several classmates, developed a business plan and legal document to enable them to build a customer base for ethical hacking, so as to evaluate their clients’ security. His passion for business and entrepreneurship will serve him well as he pursues a degree in Computer Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he is enrolled in the Honors College Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program, a two-year program for those hoping to start a business someday. Matthew plans to continue his cybersecurity business, swim on a club team and play water polo for Maryland.
Christopher has also excelled academically throughout his high school years, again with a major focus on business, but in the field of math and finance, serving this year as Vice President of Gaithersburg’s Academy of Finance. In addition to his numerous academic honors and awards, Christopher also participated in varsity football and track, earning awards, medals and trophies in championship track events. It’s no surprise that he was named Most Athletic Male for Senior Class 2017.
In his spare time, Christopher has devoted his time and energy to community service through his church fellowship organization, organizing clothing drives and sorting and packing food at the Manna Food Center. He also volunteered as assistant track coach for both the Firebirds Track Club and the City of Gaithersburg Track Team, and worked summers as a camp counselor. Christopher loves all types of music and enjoys spending time with his friends when he’s not working.
Christopher will be attending the University of Maryland, College Park, with a major in Accounting and minor in Economics, with the goal of eventually working as a financial manager. He has consistently shown his determination to succeed in all that he undertakes, so there is no doubt that he will continue to realize his goals and fulfill his dreams.
Trinity is also an honors student with a strong interest in business, having taken classes in AP statistics, economics and marketing, participating in the Academy of Finance and serving as Co-President of the GHS Millionaire’s Club.
Due to a physical challenge, Trinity was unable to participate in any sports activities, but she has overcome this obstacle by throwing herself into other extracurricular activities, including singing, participating in the school Book Club and Students Against Destructive Decisions, and serving as Vice President of the GHS Class of 2017. She has also worked the past two summers doing reimbursements and payment processing of medical invoices and credit card transactions at Community Radiology, where she’ll be working again this summer.
Trinity has said that having overcome the challenges she has faced, she would love to work with young African American females, to help them achieve a positive self-image. Joining the Black Student Union in college will enable her to continue this outreach. She is enrolled for the fall in the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park, and although she knows she wants to pursue something in the business field, she is excited about being introduced to new ideas and focus. One of her teachers notes Trinity’s great sense of humor and describes her as “an incredibly witty, passionate young woman who does not let obstacles stand in her way…with a thirst for knowledge and a love of learning that will extend well beyond her years at GHS.”
All of us at MVF are extremely proud of all of these fine Watkins Mill and Gaithersburg high school students and wish them all the best in the future! On behalf of our award-winning students, we thank all those who donated funds toward this year’s scholarship awards. Although the scholarship amounts awarded by MVF are small in light of college costs, every bit of aid is helpful in a practical sense, and the symbolic meaning of your gift is immeasurably great.
Thanks also to the volunteer MVF Scholarship Committee members who once again gave of their time and effort to select this year’s recipients from the large pool of applicants: Mary Helen Amery, Clare Conlon, Jim Andary and Sharon Levine.