Irving, Texas (June 11, 2012) — The Electronic Security Association (ESA) recently awarded $10,000 in scholarships to students from Connecticut and Florida as part of the association’s annual Youth Scholarship Program. Emma Soneson of Higganaum, Conn., received top honors with a first-place scholarship of $7,500, while Courtney Keene of Tampa, Fla., won $2,500 for second place.
Since the ESA Youth Scholarship Program was created in 1996, the association and its affiliated Chartered Chapters have donated more than $330,000 in scholarship funds to children of police officers and firefighters.
“The men and women who serve this country each and every day as police officers or firefighters are heroes and national treasures,” said ESA President Dom D’Ascoli. “The work they do in protecting our communities can never be appreciated enough. This scholarship is one of the ways we can thank our deserving public safety partners.”
This year’s top-prize winner was valedictorian at Haddam-Killingworth High School in Higganaum with a 4.28 GPA. In addition to being president of several clubs, including National Honor Society, Future Leaders of Haddam-Killingworth and the Photo Club, Emma has volunteered as a research assistant at the University of Connecticut Health Center since June 2011. She won’t be traveling far to continue her education, studying medicine at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.
Emma first won a $1,000 first-place scholarship through ESA’s Chartered Chapter in Connecticut, the Connecticut Alarm and System Integrator Association (CASIA), beating out dozens of other applicants. That award qualified her for the national ESA competition, where she competed against 14 other first-prize recipients from other Chartered Chapters, as well as one candidate selected by ESA from among applicants who live in states without an ESA chapter.
“Emma is brilliant,” said Dana Klesh, president of CASIA. “She is a straight-A student in advanced honors, while at the same time working as an intern at UConn Health Center. Her grades, music accomplishments, community service and participation in school athletics are truly impressive.”
Emma’s father, Mark Soneson, is an officer for the Berlin Police Department. As part of their entries, each applicant was required to write an essay entitled, “What it means to me to have my parent or guardian involved in securing our community.” Emma wrote about her father’s dedication and passion for his career and for serving the public.
“The most important thing that having a policeman for a father has taught me is the value that comes with serving others,” Emma wrote. “[My father] is willing to put his life on the line to keep us all safe. I could not admire him more for this, and I hope to be even half as dedicated to my career as an anesthesiologist as he is to his.”
As a resident of Florida, a state currently without an ESA Youth Scholarship Program, second-prize winner Courtney Keene applied directly to ESA to win the preliminary round – including a $1,000 scholarship – in order to compete for the national scholarships.
Courtney, who plans to study engineering at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., graduated third in her class from Steinbrenner High School in Tampa with a 4.0 GPA. Courtney played an instrumental role in garnering support for the American Cancer Society at her high school by founding the club People Aware of Cancer in 2009. As the founder and president, Courtney organized volunteer activities for her peers that helped raise funds for cancer research.
Courtney’s father, Charles Keene, is a Deputy Sheriff of Hillsborough County. In Courtney’s application essay, she reflected on her father’s profession: “Self-sacrifice is a trait that was unknowingly instilled in me at a very young age and can be attributed to only one thing, and that is my father's responsibility to his community as a homicide detective.”