Schenectady County

Surprised Schenectady High School senior gets $10,000 Nordstrom scholarship

Schenectady High School senior Amanda Kellawon thought the television cameras were there Monday to f

Schenectady High School senior Amanda Kellawon thought the television cameras were there Monday to film a documentary about the school.

Then, when Jerzy Romanowski from Nordstrom entered her AP biology class with an oversized check for $10,000, she knew the real story. Kellawon was one of eight students selected out of almost 600 who applied to receive a four-year, $10,000 scholarship.

“Oh my God!” Kellawon said.

“You know why I’m here. Congratulations,” Romanowski said.

Kellawon was caught off guard because she had been told the winners would be announced in October.

“The parents did a great job of keeping it secret,” Romanowski said.

“They knew?” said a shocked Kellawon.

“They knew a week ago,” Romanowski said.

Jankey and Raywattie Kellawon were on hand for the presentation, both giving their daughter a kiss.

“She is a hard worker. She’s very focused; she’s very disciplined. She’s dedicated to her academic work,” Raywattie Kellawon said.

Her father said he was thinking what cover story he should tell his daughter so he wouldn’t give away the surprise. “I feel very proud. I’m very excited. I wish her all the best,” he said.

Nordstrom also brought cupcakes for Kellawon and her classmates.

The high-end retailer has had the scholarship program since 1994. To be eligible, students must be a high school junior with a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.7 and who have participated in community and volunteer activities. They must also be planning to attend a four-year college in the United States and applying for financial assistance.

Kellawon said she found out about the scholarship last year through a friend.

She had to fill out an application with her resume and write essays about the impact of social networking on her life or a friend’s life and the effect of volunteering on communities. Once the field was narrowed to 12 candidates, she was invited for an interview in New Jersey.

She was grateful for the scholarship. “It’s a burden off my parents as well as myself,” she said.

Kellawon has a 3.54 GPA and is in the top 5 percent of her class. She has a very busy schedule. She is a member of Key Club, National Honor Society and Sponsor-A-Scholar. She also received a multicultural award from the University at Albany. She has volunteered at the learning center at the Schenectady Hindu Temple, the American Red Cross and Baptist Health Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, where she organizes activities and feeds the residents.

Kellawon said she considers volunteering her hobby. It was the work at Baptist, where her grandmother is a resident, that spurred her interest in the health care field. She said she would like to become a nurse or a physician’s assistant.

“I want to help people. That’s my main goal.”

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