Five MASH seniors receive MLK scholarship awards

May 20—Graduating high school students have big plans for the future, but only a select few are willing to do what's required to accomplish their plans, according to Kasey Burnett-Davis.

Burnett-Davis was the featured speaker at the Meadville Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Fund's 54th scholarship reception honoring this year's recipients Sunday afternoon.

A crowd of about 75 was at the reception at Allegheny College's Tippie Alumni Center to honor five Meadville Area Senior High (MASH) seniors — Aubrey Decker, Camryn Guffey, Lillian Groover, Salomon Arias Munoz and Luca Xavier White — awarded scholarships this year.

Burnett-Davis, 31, was a 2010 MLK scholarship recipient who went on to Edinboro University of Pennsylvania where he was a member of Edinboro's 2015 wrestling team which finished third nationally. These days he's the associate director of development and major gifts at Syracuse University Athletics.

Achieving goals takes four things — attention to detail, accountability, relentlessness and toughness, according to Burnett-Davis.

A person has to be detail oriented in the pursuit of the goal, he said, and accountability means not blaming others.

"I challenge you, how can someone accomplish things in life they claim they want to if they're unwilling to hold themselves accountable to make those things happen?" he asked.

Burnett-Davis said he's faced setbacks — whether in his athletic pursuits or business career, but he has refused to let them define him.

"I encourage you to set out on a mission as to what separates you from those around you and outwork the competition," he said. "What traits separate you from the pack?"

Finally, it takes mental toughness to stick to the plan one has mapped out.

"People will hate you. People will be jealous," Burnett-Davis said. "People will tell you you can't, but remind yourself that you can — and you will. Life always tough and challenging, but ask yourself, 'Am I willing to run through the flames at times" to achieve?

The five students received a total of $9,250 in scholarships from the King fund this year. They are among more than 160 total recipients who have been awarded more than $325,000 in scholarships since the fund started in 1968.

To be considered for the scholarship, applicants must have a grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 or more with school attendance and participation in extracurricular activities among the factors.

Each of this year's recipients has a weighted GPAs above 4.0, participated in multiple extracurricular activities, and earned various academic and other honors during their high school careers at MASH.

Aubrey Decker, a daughter of Thomas Decker and Mrs. Jennifer Straub, has a weighted GPA of 5.21 She will attend the University of Pittsburgh in the fall to pursue a degree in psychology. She plans to become a school guidance counselor.

Lillian Groover, a daughter of Susan Groover, has a weighted GPA of 4.2. She will attend Thiel College in Greenville in the fall to pursue a degree in early childhood and special education.

Camryn Guffey, a daughter of Cameron and Bonnie Guffey, has a weighted GPA of 5.43. She will attend Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania in the fall to pursue a degree as a physician assistant.

Salomon Arias Munoz, a son of David Arias and Sandra Munoz, has a weighted GPA 4.27. He will attend PennWest Edinboro in the fall to pursue an associate of science degree in aeronautics. He plans to become a commercial pilot.

Luca Xavier White, a son of Joel and Darcie Schoenfeldt White, has a weighted GPA of 5.60. He will attend Kent State University in Ohio in the fall to pursue a degree in actuarial mathematics.

More than 90 percent of the MLK scholarship recipients have graduated from college. Scholarship amounts may vary and are based on earnings of the fund's endowment with the principal left untouched.

Keith Gushard can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at