Posted by Michelle Vlasik


Recipients of scholarships from the 24th annual Strive banquet included seven students. Pictured from left, Pastor Greg Ciesluk, Halimo Ahmed, Kendra Albers, Madelyn Gersemehl, Justin Delesha, Keaton Ginter and Angie Ramirez. (Photo courtesy of Kurt Halverson)
Reprinted with permission from the Daily News


The Faribault Rotary Club was established just over 100 years ago as Rotary’s 596th club. With 22 charter members, that soon grew to 35 by the end of the first year, members act under the motto “Service Above Self.”

Volunteers work locally, regionally and internationally to “combat hunger, improve health and sanitation, provide education and job training and promote peace.” Of the many hats Rotarians wear, is more of a mentorship role through the Strive program.

Strive Chair Kurt Halverson said he works with the program through the Faribault Rotary Club.

“Strive connects area high school students with community members to learn about life skills such as time management, The Virtues Program, the value of higher education, making healthy choices, and personal finance best practices,” Halverson said.

Standing for, “Students Taking Renewed Interest in the Value of Education,” the program was created in District 5960 by Rotarian Don Mooney for the White Bear Rotary Club. According to its site, Rotary District 5960 includes: White Bear Lake Rotary Club, The Rochester Rotary Clubs, Lakeville Rotary Club, Chain of Lakes Rotary Club, Faribault Rotary Club and Stillwater Sunrise Rotary Club.

Halverson said there are eight sessions that start when the participants are juniors and it ends when the students are seniors. If the students attend at least six of the eight sessions, Halverson said they qualify to apply for a scholarship.

Scholarships were awarded at the annual Strive banquet, which was held Feb. 20 at the Inn at Shattuck.

Several students and their families were joined by members of the Rotary Club, local high school administrators and community supporters. Halverson said a grand total of $16,000 was awarded in scholarships this year and the following seven students from the Strive program were recipients: Justin Delesha, Madelyn Gersemehl, Abigail Kugler, Sophy Smith, Keaton Ginter, Kendra Albers, and Halimo Ahmed.

Halverson commended the Strive Team of Angie Ramirez, Edel Fernandez, Pastor Greg Ciesluk and Rebekah Freed for their work.

Freed put her event-planning talents to good use by coordinating the banquet and emceeing the event. Each banquet typically has a theme, and this year’s theme was called, “The Next Chapter.” To highlight this theme, Freed decorated each table based on a classic book, like “The Wizard of Oz” and “Harry Potter.”