Stephen Ash selected as Regan Scholar
Sunday, 08 July 2012 by Chuck Kelly
A recent homeschool graduate, Stephen Ash of Belton, has been selected as a GE-Reagan Foundation Scholar –The 18-year old son of Gayle and John Ash was one of 15 students chosen from almost 10,000 applicants nationwide and is the ONLY GE-Reagan Foundation Scholar from Texas.
As a 2012 recipient, Ash has received a $40,000 college scholarship, awarded during a ceremony in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
Honoring the legacy and character of our nation's 40th President, the GE-Reagan Foundation Scholarship Program rewards college-bound students who demonstrate exemplary leadership, drive, integrity and citizenship.
"It's just shocking. A work of God, most definitely," said Ash after he, his father and grandfather, Frank Rigsby of Houston, returned from a leadership retreat, tour of the Reagan Presidential Library and Awards ceremony. "We stayed there for three days. The Reagan Library is one of the biggest and most impressive presidential libraries there is. It was really neat to see. I learned so much about President Reagan. He was just an amazing example. Mrs. Reagan couldn't attend (because of her age and health) but she did send us a word of greeting thru her advisor. It would have been a huge honor to meet her."
The thousands of scholarship applicants had to compile quite a bit of information to be judged.
Ash revealed that he had to submit three letters of recommendation and an official recommendation from an organization. His was from a "preachers" organization in California, headed by a man that Stephen had met.
Lastly, they needed a list of all academic and curricular activities and service projects.
"They (the foundation) said that they were looking for four things and they were leadership, motivation, citizenship and integrity. Those were the four main criteria or characteristics," Ash recalled. ""I'm really thankful for my parents teaching me all those things because without my parents, I wouldn't have any of those."
Recalling the trip, Ash spoke highly of the others who had been selected as scholarship recipients.
"I'm thankful for the great opportunity to go out there and meet some really good kids, as well as some really important people," Ash commented." It was a group of really special kids with 'servants' hearts' who are all trying to make the best of what they can do in their communities. They were all very comfortable in a way that Reagan was. To be able to meet them and just be associated with the name of Ronald Reagan was a huge, tremendous honor."
Stephen was homeschooled by his mother, who he acknowledged taught him most things until he got a little older and wanted some more advanced classes, which he learned from other moms as co-op and a lot of dual-credit classes at Temple College. When asked about his GPA (Grade Point Average), Ash grinned and quietly answered, "I believe it was a 4.32."
Ash was a four year varsity football player for the Cen Tex Chargers Homeschool Sports Association. He was a very good quarterback, as well as running back and linebacker.
"I love football," he said. "It's probably one of the funnest things I've ever done in my life....right up there with singing."
He enrolled in BISD with two and one-half months left in school, just in time to be declared eligible for UIL track. He took third place in the 800M in district and advanced to regionals but didn't get to state. Ash also ran on the mile relay team but didn't make it to regional competition.
"It was a big thing for me and a fun experience but the competition in 5A is a lot harder than I was used to," he admitted.
When making a decision about where he wanted to attend college, Ash said that he looked around....considered Baylor and Southwestern...but chose the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.
"I like UMHB and I already know a lot of students and teachers on campus," stated Ash. "I've had the privilege of actually being in the concert choir there for a year and a half so I know many of the music kids, which is a big advantage because I plan to get a Music Education degree."
Ash commented that although he loves football, he basically decided not to play football because singing is more "long-lasting" and he doesn't see himself "going pro" anytime soon.
"I'd like to teach at the college level," he admitted. "And one of my other dreams is to teach in other countries. I like to think of music as a good lead-in to sharing the gospel, so I'd like to do music and also teach Christianity in other parts of the world."
With advanced and dual-credits already, Ash said that if "everything goes right" he should be able to graduate in three years. There's already a plan for him to achieve that goal.
With a $40,000 college scholarship from the GE-Reagan Foundation Scholarship Program and his course of studies and future plans decided, about all that's left is for Stephen Ash to pick a dorm room and head to campus. Success lies straight ahead.