For the second year, Dr. Michael Doran’s wife, Kathy Lavinder, prepares to accept, on behalf of the judging committee, all essays from possible applicants applying to the Dr. Doran Scholarship. Along with Lavinder, their kids, Samuel and Emma Doran, and a family friend, Charles Lin, serve on the team.
The application process kicked off on Feb. 28 and will end on March 31; winners will be announced in mid-May. “Michael was the first in his family to go to University,” Lavinder said, so not only will the scholarship be open to all graduating seniors who are going to school in the fall, but it will favor first generation college bound seniors or seniors with especially compelling circumstances.
While she knows that only a small number of students at this school are going to be first generation college students, “there are always special circumstances or aspects of a student’s life and profile, which we would be very interested to hear about,” Lavinder said.
At last year’s graduation, the scholarship was awarded to four seniors: Malcolm Amobi, Michelle Fan, Andrew Guiberson and Valerie Segal, who each received a $2,500 scholarship. This year, there will be two $5,000 awards. The team has been actively raising funds for the scholarship since last year and hopes to continue the same with the hopes of “increasing the amount of the scholarship and then perhaps the number of scholarships awarded,” Lavinder said.
While the scholarship essay prompt was open ended last year, the team received a mixed assortment of essays, and thought it better this year to provide “an editorial guide for students to help them focus more in terms of their thinking and writing,” Lavinder said.
There are now two prompts to choose from, each beginning with a quote used by Dr. Doran. The quotes feed into a thought-provoking question to the applicant, either asking about a challenge in one’s life and how it was overcome or a challenging relationship that changed one’s outlook on life.
The scholarship evolved from an effort “to carry on his work, and his life’s mission” as “he was dedicated to Wootton, to helping Wootton students, and to encouraging students to continue their education,” Lavinder said.
One of last year’s recipients, Valerie Segal, was especially motivated to write this essay not only for the monetary reward, but also for the emotional reward of continuing to receive Dr. Doran’s support.
Segal had a difficult home life, with a father out of work for the last 10 years from a brain injury and a mother just getting back into work. Segal would often confide in Dr. Doran and “talk to him about it; he got me through high school,” Segal said.
The scholarship has in a way taken a load off of Segal’s back financially. “I didn’t think that college was going to be possible for me to start immediately and now I don’t have to worry about the first semester,” Segal said.
The community is continuously taking steps to honor their beloved late principal. According to an online article on Rockville Review, on Mar. 6, the Mayor and Council “unanimously voted to name the bridge next to Wootton High School” after Dr. Doran. “It’s a great way to recognize someone that we not only love, but we know was dedicated to the Wootton Community,” Lavinder said.