Olivia Wood was announced as the recipient of the Russell A. Willis Youth of the Year Scholarship on Friday, July 12, 2019. She was awarded the scholarship at the Portage Township YMCA by Shannon Burhans, President & CEO of the Portage Township YMCA.
Applications were accepted through April 30, 2019. Candidates for this award must live within the service area of the Portage Township YMCA, be an active member, volunteer or program participant at the Y, display the Y’s 5 core values: caring, honesty, respect, responsibility, & faith, have active community involvement with diversity appreciation, and demonstrate academic success. "While we were disappointed with the number of applicants this year, selecting Olivia’s application as the winner was a no-brainer.” said Burhans.
Aside from her outstanding academic and athletic achievements, Wood was chosen for her caring & compassionate qualities, long history with Y and for her socially responsible career-choice. Demonstrating one of the Y’s 5 core values, Caring, Wood currently serves seniors in the Portage community as a C.N.A. at Golden Living Center. Upon graduation from Purdue Northwest, Wood plans to become a registered nurse in the labor & delivery department. “I enjoy working with moms and want to ensure the experience of bringing a tiny human into this world is comfortable and memorable,” said Wood. Despite just graduating from Portage High School in Spring 2019, Wood has already begun taking summer classes at Purdue.
Wood has been a member of the Portage Township YMCA since December 2005 participating in various programs throughout the years and regularly uses the facility. That’s how Wood knew about the scholarship in addition to it being listed in her school’s local scholarship pamphlet. Wood reflects on why she applied for the scholarship, “I’ve been coming to the Y since I was an itty-bitty and it’s a family place. My grandparents are here, my mom’s here all the time and it just kind of feels like a home.”
The Youth of the Year Scholarship was started by the Portage Y's founder and first board president, Russell A. Willis. The award is granted yearly to an outstanding person displaying several leadership qualities. This award is a $1,000 scholarship payable upon the student’s graduation from high school and acceptance to and enrollment in a two or four-year degree program, a vocational training program and/or other continuing education or training program approved by the Portage Township YMCA. The award is paid directly to the educational or training institution on behalf of the winner.
Olivia is the daughter of Mark & Shawna Wood of Portage.