|Photo Courtesy of the Ventura County Star|
For the second time in four years, an OVS student has claimed the prestigious Star Scholarship award, which recognizes the academic and extracurricular achievements of Ventura County’s top-graduating students.
Senior Serry Park, 18, has made her school and classmates proud. As a volunteer tutor, AP mentor, Relay for Life leader and student-body president, she and her predecessor, Parker Colborn, 21 (now attending Chapman University) serve as shining examples of Ojai Valley School’s outstandingly motivated students.
The event took place on April 24 at the Serra Center in Camarillo, where 87 of Ventura County’s best and brightest high school seniors assembled to celebrate their accomplishments.
Serry was thrilled to be among them.
“It was really great being in the same room with people who have worked so hard and achieved so much,” she said. “It made me excited for college.”
Serry wrote a moving essay about a troubled childhood and a difficult – even violent– home life. Her essay detailed an extended stay in foster care, as well as the challenges of dealing with her mother’s bipolar disorder and psychoschizophrenia.
From foster care, she enrolled in Ojai Valley School and she explained how she found sanctuary in the support of the school and strength through the difficulties of her past.
The essay earned her the grand prize, a $5000 scholarship, surpassing the efforts of 86 other top students of Ventura Country.
Serry’s mother, Anna Park, 58, embraced her daughter as she was declared the winner. Crying with joy into each others’ arms, Serry gently pulled away from her mother and walked up to receive her award, bowing respectfully before accepting a check and a crystal star from Ventura County Star editor, John Moore.
Serry said she will put the scholarship toward paying for her tuition at Wellesley College, the esteemed all-women’s university outside of Boston.
Her 80-year old, unemployed father will be paying for her tuition. “This will help,” she explained tearfully.
Serry’s faculty advisor, Lisa Boyd accompanied her to the awards ceremony. She stood by Serry and cried along with her mother.
“I was really proud to be there with her,” said Mrs. Boyd. “She told me a reporter called in the afternoon and asked questions and that made me wonder if possibly she won the award. It was still a long shot. But she did it!”
Mrs. Boyd taught at Ojai Valley School when Parker Colborn won the Star Scholarship Award in 2009. She was delighted to see two of her students achieve such a high honor in such a short period of time.
“It was so exciting to think about that of these schools, Ojai Valley School [students] should win twice in four years,” she said. “It is really special and speaks so highly of the students at our school.”
Story by Emmy Addison, Class of 2014.