VAN WERT – On Wednesday, members of the Van Wert Service Club met to announce this year’s winners of the R.K. Thompson Self-Reliance Award. The R.K. Thompson Self-Reliance Award is given to the female and male senior student who does the best with what she or he has. This year’s winners were Jamie Burenga of Van Wert and Peter McMaster of Lincolnview.
Jamie Burenga is a member of National Honor Society, Beta Club, Symphonic and Marching Band and also competes on the tennis and swim teams at Van Wert High School. She is a member of First United Methodist Church youth group.
After graduation, Burenga plans to attend the University of Dayton majoring in chemical engineering and minoring in either environmental engineering or sustainability. Burenga interned with Kenn-Feld Group through the CEO program and has served as a lifeguard at the YMCA.
Service Club member Kimberly Laudick read Burenga’s self-reliance and reference letters. She noted that to Burenga, “self-reliance means creating opportunities for myself, being an agent for my education, and advocating for myself.”
Throughout high school, Burenga researched and attended summer engineering camps in an attempt to explore different career paths, noted Laudick.
“Jamie is often sought out as a team leader because of her work ethic, positive attitude, and perseverance to face the tough challenges,” said one of Burenga’s references. “Jamie has a maturity surpassing most high school students. She has been a joy to have as a student.”
Burenga is the daughter of Thomas and Julie Burenga.
Other female finalists included Madison Langdon of Lincolnview, Elaina O’Neill of Lincolnview, Kassidy Ringwald of Lincolnview, and Sarah Thomas of Crestview.
Peter McMaster is a member of the National Honor Society, Scholastic Bowl, Beta Club president, Science Club president, team captain of Science Olympiad, founder and president of the Math Club and also competes on the basketball team at Lincolnview High School.
McMaster volunteers his time with Charis House, Van Wert County Animal Shelter, KBA Basketball and is a member of Calvary Evangelical Church. After high school, he plans to continue his education earning a degree in astrophysics then a PhD. Peter is currently employed at Subway.
Service Club member Mark Schumm read McMaster’s self-reliance and reference letters.
In his own words, read Schumm, McMaster writes, “To me, self-reliance is not an action or specific incidence, it is a mentality. To be self-reliant means you are not afraid to take risks or go outside your comfort zone. It means that you are confident enough in your abilities to bet on yourself in a situation even when you do not know the outcome.”
“What has always impressed me about Peter is his ability to see all of the details of a problem or situation as well as the implications of various decisions regarding that problem or situation,” wrote McMaster’s teacher reference. “That is why I call him both a global and local thinker. He’s a very fun student to converse with, plus he is extremely bright without flaunting his intelligence. Peter pushed me to be a better teacher, which I will always appreciate.”
McMaster is the son of Matthew and Pamela McMaster.
Other male finalists included Cole Gorman of Lincolnview, Jordan Hurless of Van Wert, Clayton Leeth of Lincolnview, and Killian Sudduth of Vantage.
This year’s award marked the 51st year. Finalists received $500 and a plaque. Winners received an extra $500.