OGR Foundation Grants Record Number of ‘Awards of Excellence’ Scholarships

A record nine students were awarded scholarships through OGR’s charitable foundation this year. All demonstrated solid academic performance, community involvement and a dedication to the independent funeral service model OGR stands for.

Donavin Miles of Columbus Technical College in Columbus, Georgia, won the Gold-level scholarship for $3,500. He is a part-time student with a 4.0 GPA who will graduate in December. He says he wants to be part of the "honorable legacy" of independent funeral homes' work within the communities they serve." 

“I am thrilled to have chosen the funeral service profession as a result of me stepping out on my calling to enter a profession that is highly respected, always required, and it is a profession in which I personally believe my special gifts were destined," Donavin said in his scholarship essay. "My desire to enter the funeral service profession is not just about a career path, but a call to serve. During my restorative arts class, I discovered natural artistic abilities with my hands that I was not aware of. I found restorative arts to not feel like doing work but instead found it satisfying and therapeutic. My desire is to advance my restorative arts skills and specialize in restoring minor to major restorative cases. My goal is to reduce closed casket funerals and give families the opportunity to have the final viewings that they deserve.”

Kieron A. Keegan of Humber College in Toronto won the Silver-level scholarship for $2,000. Kieron is a full time student with a 4.0 GPA who expects to graduate in June. He currently works as an office manager and funeral director intern at a funeral home in Ontario. He says he likes the independent funeral home model because "[b]eing able to make decisions based on what is right versus what generates the greatest profit margin is of utmost importance to me."

"During my career as a Funeral Director, it is my hope that I can continue to wake up every day knowing I will help someone," Kieron said in his scholarship essay. "Most times I do not know who I will help or how I will help them, but it gives me a great sense of pride to be trusted to be the person called upon in their time of need. Families entrust Funeral Service Professionals with something more valuable than money or gold, they trust us with their loved one - a sacred trust that must never be broken. My commitment to the families I am called to serve, as well as those who have selected another establishment, is complete honestly, fairness and transparency in all interactions, at all times."

This year's Bronze-level scholarships, worth $1,000 each, went to Rae Guntz of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Program of Mortuary Science, and Joyce Howard of John Tyler Community College in Chester, Virginia.

The foundation also awarded five scholarships worth $500 each to:

  • Daniel C. Bowman, Mid-America College of Funerary Service | Jeffersonville, Indiana
  • Rachel Dam, Humber College | Toronto, Ontario
  • Katie Gochanour, Milwaukee Area Technical College | West Allis, Wisconsin
  • Courtney Richards, American Academy McAllister Institute | New York, New York
  • Madeline Stoneman, Humber College | Etobicoke, Ontario

All told, the Foundation gave away $10,000 in scholarships to nine deserving mortuary school students this year. That's more students than the Foundation has ever been able to help in a single year before - and double the amount of money - thanks to the generosity of OGR's members.

The OGR Foundation is a registered charitable organization under IRS Tax Code 501(c)(3), making all donations fully tax deductible as a charitable donation. You can easily make your donation online! Donations go to fund the Awards of Excellence scholarship program to help deserving students like these.

This message was originally published in the Spring 2022 issue of The Independent® magazineClick here to read the entire issue.

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