At Synergy, we believe that one of the best ways to invest in our organization and our local community is by giving back. This philosophy was the primary inspiration behind our annual Melissa Marie Watson Academic Achievement Award. Each year, we provide college tuition assistance to two outstanding high school seniors. We’re excited to announce that this year’s recipients are Chiara Cradick and Jessica Stavros!
Both highly deserving students will receive a $1,000 award for their first year of university. Additionally, they’re eligible for subsequent $500 awards each year for three years as long as they continue to perform academically, and their sponsoring parent or grandparent remains a Synergy employee.
There are several criteria that must be met in order to apply for the award. 25% of the points an applicant is eligible for are based on their grade point average. Another 25% are based on the student’s SAT or ACT scores. The remaining 50% are allocated based on letters of recommendation from their school and on a one-page essay response to an application question. Three academic professionals who are independent of Synergy then judge the applications.
“Honoring exceptional students with the Melissa Marie Watson Academic Achievement Award brings us one step closer to our goal of making the world a better place,” said Mike Harrington, President of Synergy. “Higher education continues to increase in cost, becoming a financial burden for countless individuals. Knowing that we’re assisting young adults in overcoming these obstacles and achieving their dreams feels like the true reward every single year.”
2019 marks the 20th anniversary of the award. Synergy launched the program in 1999 as an effort to support the educational achievements of the children and grandchildren of our staff. In 2003, the award was renamed to honor Melissa Marie Watson, daughter of Synergy employee Kim Watson, who was tragically killed in an auto accident before the start of her senior year of high school. Today, the award serves to keep her memory alive and the two winners are chosen with Melissa at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
This year, the applicants faced fierce competition, but ultimately Chiara Cradick and Jessica Stavros emerged as this year’s winners. Chiara is the daughter of Greg Cradick, an employee of Synergy’s client Wedgewood Building Company located in Carmel, Indiana. Chiara recently graduated from Guerin Catholic High School and is enrolled to attend Purdue University this fall. Jessica is the daughter of Christopher Stavros, an employee of Synergy’s client Colbert Packaging Corporation based in Lake Forest, Illinois. After graduating from Wheeling High School this spring, Jessica is enrolled to attend Illinois State University later this year.
Thank you to all of this year’s applicants and, once again, congratulations to Chiara and Jessica! Applications for the 2020 Melissa Marie Watson Academic Achievement Awards re-open in January of 2020 with all materials due by the end of April.