Three graduating seniors have earned $2,000 Steve Engle Scholarships from the Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce.
Jeanette Alcaraz of Flowing Wells, Maile Hoffmann of Ironwood Ridge and Tara Murphy of Marana accepted the awards Thursday, when the chamber held its monthly breakfast meeting.
Alcaraz, a 3.8 grade point average student, plans to study biochemistry at Pima Community College, then at a four-year school. She wants to do research into blindness; her two "courageous" brothers are blind.
"I want to be a hero for any community, not for fame, but for a sense of accomplishment," Alcaraz said. "Education is a gift that shouldn't be taken for granted … it is a vehicle that needs to be pumped. I want to give back to society for the gift it gave me, through education."
Alcaraz "saw paying for college as an insurmountable barrier," she said. With the award, "you have made an impact for me."
Jeanette is the daughter of Maria and Regino Alcaraz.
Hoffmann is a 3.8 student at Ironwood Ridge. She'll study civil engineering at Arizona State University.
Hoffmann chose her field of study because it offered a balance of intellectual stimulation, the pleasure of work and a desire to serve others. She plans to contribute to society "in an environmentally sensitive way."
"The future is bright, and I'm looking forward to its challenges," Hoffmann said. "I hope to make you all very proud."
Maile is the daughter of John and Suzi Hoffmann.
Murphy is a 3.9 student at Marana. She'll study music education and business at Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher.
Murphy has 12 piano students. "I want to teach music when I grow up," she said. "Teaching is one of the most rewarding experiences I've had in my life."
When Tara learned of the scholarship award, "I was so happy, it was like a party. It's very much appreciated."
She's the daughter of Trent and Lisa Murphy, who are always "encouraging me and always telling me to do my best." Tara also thanked Marana counselor Patti Comerford.
"I'd also like to thank music, which is not really a person, but just for being there," Murphy said. "It's a big part of everyone's life." She is choosing music education because "that's just what I love to do, I just love it.
"Thank you for choosing me, and having faith in me, and I won't let you guys down."
Members of the chamber's scholarship selection committee are Denise Bauer, Ramon Gaanderse, Melanie Larson, Kathy Cuvilier and Tom Pitzer. Dr. Sylvia Lee chairs the group, which interviewed a number of applicants.
"This is not an easy scholarship to obtain," Lee said. Applicants must demonstrate financial need, submit letters of recommendation and an essay, and go through a personal interview.
Engle, an Oro Valley founding force, was elected mayor in 1976.
The 2009 annual golf tournament and scholarship fund-raiser is Friday, June 5, at the Oro Valley Country Club. Chairman Hollis McDonald said preparation is in the "final stages," with the emphasis now on finding players. Last year's event sold out.