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Virginia Smith Trust Honor Scholars Recognized at Annual Awards Dinner


  • Student Events
  • VST
Virginia Smith Trust Honor Scholars Recognized at Annual Awards Dinner

Students, their families and educational leaders gathered last night, May 6, for the Virginia Smith Honor Scholars Award Dinner, hosted at the MCOE Downtown Center, to celebrate the achievements of 14 VST honor scholars. 

Students from El Capitan, Golden Valley, Merced High School and Merced Scholars Charter School were recognized for meeting the VST scholarship criteria, which requires applicants to be high school seniors, have at least a 3.0 GPA, attended school in Merced city for at least three years, plan to attend a four-year California university and demonstrate that they are worthy, deserving and in need of financial assistance.

Honor Scholar recipients are awarded a $20,000 four-year scholarship disbursed in $5,000 per year. These applicants were scored highest by the VST committee out of the high school seniors who applied. Only high school seniors qualify for the Honor Scholarship.

The awards dinner featured remarks from Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen, who also serves as the Trust Advisor, and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Marisa Brooks, who is a former Virginia Smith Trust Scholar. Both congratulated students on the achievement and emphasized Virginia Smith’s vision of academic excellence for students in Merced.

The Virginia Smith Trust has benefitted more than 3,000 Merced students through nearly $6 million in scholarships and grants. In addition to 14 honor scholar recipients, 296 students met the criteria for the VST grant this year.

“For the third year we’ve celebrated students who applied for the VST Scholarship and were selected as Honor Scholars for their academic performance, extracurricular activities and educational journey,” said Merced County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steve Tietjen. “The Virginia Smith Trust has provided scholarships for Merced students for decades, and as the Trust expands with the development of the University Community, so will the support for students.”

In March 2023, a petition to expand the VST’s capacity to serve students countywide was approved by the Merced County Court and is projected to take effect by 2026. 

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