OWOSSO — The Cook Family Foundation hosted its annual program Monday evening at the Owosso Amphitheater to present scholarships to students who will pursue higher education at the University of Michigan.
Most years, the ceremony takes place at the Owosso Country Club, but with the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, this year’s event was held at the amphitheater to keep everyone in attendance safe by maintaining social distancing.
Mason Collard, of Owosso High School, was the recipient of the Bruce and Jackie Cook Scholarship, which is a four-year, full-tuition award. Collard was the Salutatorian of his class this year, and had the highest SAT score in Shiawassee County in 2020. He ran track and cross country, and also received a University of Michigan Regents Scholarship and Frederick E. Gould Scholarship.
The Donald Cook Scholarship winner was Kerra Hinrichs, of New Lothrop High School. She was President of the New Lothrop FFA chapter, as well as captain of the volleyball team and was on the track team. She plans to major in pre-med in college.
Former New Lothrop (1993) and Michigan grad (1997) Kellie Grasman was the featured speaker and told the young scholars in attendance that she was drawn to the University of Michigan. She didn’t know why, exactly, but a tour of the campus in Ann Arbor in foundation executive director Tom Cook’s “wood-paneled station wagon” helped to convince her it was the right place to pursue her education. Grasman has published books on economic engineering in her professional career.
“I’m excited about what’s next for you over the next four years at Michigan and beyond,” Grasman said. “You can’t even imagine the impact the University of Michigan experience will have on your life. I’ve been in your shoes. Students and parents … It feels like yesterday. I was certain U-M was the only school for me, and I think it was the only school I applied to … It was thanks to Mr. Cook taking me on a campus visit in that station wagon many years ago with my classmates, and really showing us how we would love Michigan. That Michigan experience was worth it.”
Since the Cook Family Foundation began giving them 40 years ago, nearly 800 Shiawassee County students have received scholarships.
“We’ve helped a lot of students along the way,” Tom Cook said Monday. “You’ve made the right decision. We will be here to help you, not only with the scholarship we’re awarding tonight. Please call on us and others if you have questions or concerns.”
Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership President/CEO Justin Horvath was present Monday, and said Bruce Cook had convinced him that Ann Arbor was where he belonged.
“Michigan and Notre Dame were my final two choices, and Bruce convinced me the University of Michigan was the place I needed to be,” Horvath said. “He was very convincing, obviously, and I can say confidently it was one of the best decisions in my entire life. Kudos to all of you for making Michigan your choice.”
Of the 23 scholarship recipients from the area high schools, six are valedictorians of their class. Scholarship winners include, from Byron Area High School, Brandon Brozich; from Chesaning Union High School, Katrina Pursche; from Corunna High School, Evan Roka; from Durand High School, Jacob Lockhart; from Laingsburg High School, Anne Claus; from Morrice High School, Alina Stinson; from New Lothrop High School, Kerra Hinrichs and Charles Weber; from Ovid-Elsie Area High School, Shayne Loynes, Benjamin Maynard, Noah Payne, and Ella Sheedlo; from Owosso High School, Mason Collard, Lynnae Gilman, Noah Jafri, Avery Peplinski, Lucille Popovitch, William Scrimger, and Jorden Sowash; and from Perry High School, Lindsey Bixler, Kathleen Dignan, Haley Ladermann and Kyah Ribble.