Past Success Stories

Education is priceless, and our donors have supported the educational goals and dreams of thousands of students in Frederick County. Read these inspiring stories of success from previous years.

Carmen Kaarid

Carmen says the scholarships she received allowed her the opportunity to explore her path and discover her passion for public policy and advocacy. A 2012 graduate of Urbana High School, she earned an Associate degree from Frederick Community College. Initially a nursing major, Carmen realized in her first year that her talents were better suited to a non-health care field and decided that social work would provide the opportunity to help others and was more aligned with her skills and abilities. She then earned a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), and then a Master’s of Social Work from UMBC. Carmen is employed as a legislative services coordinator for the Montgomery County Council and is serving a three-year term as a commissioner for the Frederick County Commission for Women. She says her goal in life is to serve others by developing and advocating for policy and legislation, especially issues that affect women; her future career plans include election to public office. Carmen’s success was helped with scholarships from The George Wesley Gilbert Memorial Scholarship Fund and The Margaret E. Brust Nursing Scholarship Fund.

Michelle Molina

Michelle graduated from Urbana High School in 2012 and then earned a degree in early childhood education from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2016. Since then, she has been teaching second grade for Montgomery County Public Schools. Michelle says the scholarships she received from The Mary E.M. and Ruth E. Smith Scholarship Fund and The Don and Rosa Rippeon Scholarship Fund alleviated her family’s financial burden of attending college and allowed her to pursue her passion for teaching. Currently, Michelle is pursuing a Master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with a focus on educational leadership at McDaniel College. She plans to move into school administration and her future dream is opening a school.


Jared Harshman

Jared Harshman says that because of the financial boost provided by scholarships from the Community Foundation, his career possibilities are limitless. Jared’s dream was to attend Oklahoma State University, a mid-west school known for its agricultural program and one of the largest land-grant schools in the nation.  He did just that, after graduating from Linganore High School in 2014. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Animal Science with a minor in Agriculture Economics, and in July 2020, graduated again with a Master’s of Science, concentrating in swine nutrition. During his time as a graduate assistant, he facilitated research trials at Oklahoma State University’s Swine Research and Education Center and assisted with classroom and laboratory teaching. Jared’s career goal of working with a major food company specializing in swine species was helped with scholarships from The Gene, Evelyn and Ernest Family Scholarship Fund II, The Jacob W. Hubble Memorial Scholarship Fund, The Edward D. Grove, Sr. Scholarship Fund, and The Frederick County Agriculture Scholarship Fund.

Caroline Strakonsky

As the daughter of two professional educators, it’s no surprise that Caroline decided to pursue a career in education, too. After graduating from Frederick High School in 2016, Carolina then earned a degree in elementary education from High Point University, graduating during the COVID-19 pandemic. Caroline says the scholarships she received from The Mary E.M. and Ruth E. Smith Scholarship Fund helped her to believe in her abilities because of this hometown support, and they also inspired her during her student teaching experience to be the best she could be. In the fall of 2020, Caroline will begin her career as a 3rd-grade reading and writing teacher at Deer Crossing Elementary. Her future plans include earning a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership, then pursuing a doctorate to become a district superintendent, followed by state superintendent, as she wants to make a positive difference in school systems for students and teachers, especially those with economic and specialized needs.


Jimmy Liu

Jimmy graduated from Urbana High School in 2012, and with the help of a scholarship from The Michael David Hendrix Memorial Scholarship Fund, graduated from the  University of Maryland College Park with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.  Jimmy says that the scholarship allowed him the freedom to grow as a person by volunteering as an after-school tutor in District of Columbia public schools because his financial burden was less. Currently, Jimmy is pursuing his Ph.D. in biology at Johns Hopkins University through the graduate partnership program at the National Institutes of Health. He is currently working on uncovering the molecular basis of a spectrum of rare neurological disorders that include spastic paraplegia type-39, Gordon-Holmes, Boucher-Neuhauser, Laurence-Moon, and Oliver-McFarlane syndromes. His long-term goals include helping to improve health care and lives throughout the world, whether that be through post-doctorate study or a career in the health care industry.

Bradley Stone

Bradley graduated from Brunswick High School in 2016 and then earned his Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science from Towson University in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. A scholarship from The Lisa A. Orndorff Lajewski Memorial Scholarship Fund helped with the costs of books, lab fees, and tuition. He chose exercise science as his major because it provided a wide spectrum of study including personal training, dietetics, physical therapy, and cardiac rehabilitation. During his college years, Bradley worked with Chesapeake Bay Aquatic and Physical Therapy as a physical therapy technician, gaining valuable experience. Currently, Bradley is training for his EMT-B certification and is  volunteering with the United Steam Fire Engine Company, earning patient care experience hours towards his goal of returning to Towson to become a physician’s assistant.

Thanks to the scholarships from the Community Foundation, I was able to focus on school and not stress about finances.

Diego Camargo

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