The Newton-Needham Regional Chamber has selected Newton South High School senior Maya Dennis and Needham High School senior Jillian Smith to receive the chamber’s annual student scholarships.
Dennis will attend the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in the fall where she will pursue her interests of science, math and social advocacy. During her time in the Newton Public School system, she has made an impact through her academic and extra-curricular success.
Dennis is also president and co-founder of the Aspirations in Medicine club, a pilot member of the school’s “Courageous Conversations on Race” initiative, a member of the Varsity Track and Field Team, plays saxophone in the Lab Jazz Ensemble and works at Rosie’s Place-the nation’s first homeless shelter for women.
“Maya possesses an intelligent, inquisitive and reflective learning style, and displays motivation and maturity that are beyond her years,” said Suzy Drurey, her AP Chemistry teacher. “I am impressed by her warmth of character, kindness, innate curiosity, strong analytical problem-solving ability, and especially her dedication to improving and challenging herself.”
Smith hopes to attend a small liberal arts college where she can pursue her interests in art and working with children. She has excelled as a student at Needham High School, taking several AP classes and involving herself in numerous clubs. Beyond the walls of high school, Smith has fostered her love for teaching and working with children both through her coaching position at Energy Fitness and Gymnastics, and as a reading and writing tutor.
“Jillian is one of those people who continually stands out among her peers, whose infectious enthusiasm inspires others,” said Matt Johnson, founder of Energy Fitness and Gymnastics. “Her unwavering commitment and integrity creates admiration and trusting relationships, and her intelligence, drive and intuition brings to her opportunities that are often reserved for those who are contemporaries.”
Dennis and Smith were selected from a large pool of graduating seniors who live and or attend high school in Newton and Needham. The selection committee included Kevin Ruddy (PTC), Alison Borelli (Needham Historical Society), Barry Brown (Mount Ida College), Mark Loveless (The Village Bank), Bryan Manandhar (Brookline Bank) and Josephine McNeil (CAN-DO).
The two $2,000 awards will help fund the respective college or university each student will attend in the fall of 2017.