The three Oak Ridge High School seniors who won the Bradley Sturm Memorial Scholarships for 2015 are Holly Gubanc, Diane “Grace” Malone, and Megan Pitz.
Mel Sturm, a local businessman for years, said he started the endowment for the scholarship fund in 1976 for two reasons. He wanted to give back to the community that had supported his businesses. And he was determined to combat the tendency of Oak Ridge students, many of whom have parents who work for the federal government or government contractors, to view “free enterprise” and the “profit motive” with suspicion.
The scholarship program is administered by a Rotary Club of Oak Ridge committee consisting of Barry Stephenson, chair, and Jim Sumner, Larry Beeman, Jim Charles, Hal Schmitt, and Mel Sturm. ORHS economics teachers Beverly Baumann and Teresa Seals play key roles in the program.
Stephenson said at a Rotary meeting in April that the scholarship applicants this year had to read Friedrich Hayek’s 1944 book “The Road to Serfdom.” Then they had to write a six-page essay addressing three questions, including “Are you positive or negative about America’s future?” The students that cleared the first hurdles had to sit down with the Rotary committee and answer their questions about the book.
At the Rotary meeting, the three scholarship winners shared their views and future plans.
Gubanc said the book helped her understand why people disagree over the relative importance of freedom versus security (and protection of the public).
Her plan is to earn an master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. Her career goal is to open a business that builds designer prosthetics for people who have lost an arm or leg. She wants these customers to feel proud about who they are.
Pitz said she enjoyed reading the Hayek book, which “opened my eyes to new perspectives.” She plans to attend the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and earn an master’s degree in bioengineering.
She is interested in bringing clean water and clean energy to villages that need it and in designing prosthetics for the disabled. She suggested that Holly and herself might want to work together to establish a prosthetics business.
Malone liked the way the Hayek book presented practical applications of the economic theories and concepts she had learned at ORHS. “It challenged my own ideas and let me think and have an open mind,” she said.
Her plan is to attend the University of Tennessee. Her academic goal is to major in global public health either at UT or the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Then, she plans to get a law degree and practice public health law.
“Maybe I could be your lawyer,” she said to the other two winners if they collaborate on opening a prosthetics business.