by Jenna Webb
When Cecilia Mainzer and Alyssa Haun were members of the Highland High School Speech and Debate team together from 2016-2018, bus rides to and from tournaments allowed them to establish a friendship.
Tragically, Haun and her brother, Justin, tragically passed away in July 2018. From their sorrow, their parents created the Haun Memorial Scholarship to honor their children. Their intention was to provide funds for students to further the goodness and kindness that Alyssa and Justin exemplified throughout their lives.
As both a friend to Alyssa and the first recipient of the scholarship, Mainzer, who is currently in her fifth year at the University of Akron, said, “[It is more than just a scholarship. [It is] a responsibility.”
Mainzer said that after receiving the benefits of this scholarship, she saw it as motivation to better herself and influence others’ lives throughout her first four years of college, in order to honor both Alyssa’s and Justin’s memory.
Embarking on her college career, Mainzer asked herself how she could better herself right from the get-go? She said she used that mindset to get involved immediately, joining the Engineering Student Council.
Throughout her many years on this council, she successfully rose up to be a member of the National Association of Engineering Student Council, or NoiAESC.
“From that scholarship and [looking for] ways I can give back or help people, I’ve learned that I would regret if I did not at least share my experiences with those [who need guidance].”
As a testament to her hard work, humility, intelligence, and leadership, Cecilia was chosen as a recipient of the Student Elizabeth Buchtel Award. This award is unique in comparison to the various other awards she received due to the fact that there was no application involved.
“This award meant so much because I don’t know what I did to deserve recognition like that,” Mainzer said.
Looking forward, Cecilia plans on completing her fifth and final year at UA as an honors graduate through the chemical engineering program. Her experiences and the time spent in college taught her various life lessons and skills that she plans to incorporate into her professional career. “When you apply for the Alyssa and Justin Haun Memorial Scholarship, you can’t get past the description, the meaning, the stories and the memory,” she said. “But also the hope for the future and what the award donors hope for the recipients as well.” ∞