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Summerville teen wins $5,000 scholarship from state’s electric co-ops

Ogugua Nwaezeigwe of Summerville is the recipient of the 2018 R.D. Bennett Community Service Scholarship presented by The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, Inc., the trade association for South Carolina’s independent, not-for profit electric cooperatives.  The $5,000 college scholarship is presented to a student who completes a community service project that best exemplifies the cooperative principle of “concern for community.”

Nwaezeigwe, 17, was among 10 high school students from across the state who completed projects this summer.  In mid-August, a panel of judges selected her project, “The STEMinists Program,” as the winner in the competition.  Nwaezeigwe created a program to instill excitement in young women who are interested in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math).  Nwaezeigwe also created a STEM workshop for young women in the 4th-8th grades and raised nearly $5,000 for that workshop and for future workshops.

“I believe that the ‘STEMinists Program’ has created a fire burning underneath the hearthstones of curiosity that has sparked a revolution in the minds and community of our young girls,” said Nwaezeigwe.  “The conversation that this program has started—I would never have imagined when I first thought of the idea. Being a woman is not a disadvantage but something to be celebrated in the STEM field."

“The judges were impressed with every aspect of Ogugua’s project,” said Van O’Cain, director of public and member relations with The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina.  “It was a big undertaking, and her work will have a lasting impression on the young women in her community.”

Nwaezeigwe completed her project after attending the co-ops’ annual Washington Youth Tour program, which sends rising high school seniors to the nation’s capital for a week of learning about co-ops and government.  Nwaezeigwe and seven other local students were chosen by Berkeley Electric Cooperative to attend the Youth Tour in June with a total of 69 students from around South Carolina.

Nwaezeigwe, a senior at Cane Bay High School in Summerville, is the daughter of Patrick and Rosy Nwaezeigwe.

The R.D. Bennett Community Service Scholarship is named for Robert D. Bennett, the first general manager and executive vice president of The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, Inc.  Bennett, who led the state association from 1950 until his retirement in 1980, strongly believed that electric cooperatives should support their local communities—providing a better quality of life for their members.  His spirit of community service is reflected in this scholarship opportunity.

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