In the path of service: Elise Suing receives Maureen Ernst Scholarship

June 2021 Posted in Community, People, School

By Melissa Wagoner

Elise Suing, Maureen Ernst Memorial Scholarship Recipient

Maureen Ernst was a longtime member of the Mt. Angel Chamber of Commerce and a passionate advocate for her community. So much so that, when she passed away in 2018, the chamber created the Maureen Ernst Scholarship, which funds a $2,000 unrestricted gift to a deserving John F. Kennedy High School senior each year.

“When we remember Maureen, we remember her dedication to volunteerism and the friendly, positive manner in which she shared her love for Mount Angel to everyone she encountered,” Chamber Treasurer Kristi Brackinreed said at the presentation of this year’s award to graduate Elise Suing.

“While reviewing Elise’s application, we saw many similarities to Maureen’s favorite things in life – Habitat for Humanity, Oktoberfest, leadership roles and athletics,” Brackinreed continued. “And just as Elise is the ASB Public Relations Officer, Maureen always served as the Chamber’s PR rep.”

Suing – daughter of Karen and Shawn Suing – is also a lifelong member of St. Mary’s Parish, where she became a member of the Junior Catholic Daughters of America in the third grade. And, in her senior year, became a staff member with the high school yearbook, despite this being an especially challenging year.

“Being online the entire first half of the school year has made covering activities, taking photos and gathering content very difficult,” Robby Morrissey, the Publishing Class instructor, wrote in his letter of recommendation. “Despite having never taken Publishing before, Elise has risen to the tough task of completing the yearbook. I’ve been so impressed with her creativity and ability to communicate and reach out to students to get what she needs for her pages.”

Fellow educator Jessica Schmidtman also had good things to say about Suing.

“I know that when I am having a stressful day Elise is the first to try and help or cheer me up,” Schmidtman said. “She also brings that vitality to the classroom by producing great work and unforgettable projects…. She is creative, and thoughtful with how she dives into her work.”

She is also passionate, especially when it comes to helping in the community – even when the community in question is not her own.

“After the fires of September 2020, we as a leadership group, wanted to do what we could to help those affected,” Suing recalled. “We created the Tri- River Strong Fundraiser involving other schools in our league giving all proceeds to Santiam High School… Our JFK Leadership was able to raise $2,000 in hope that this gift would help them feel our support. I have always enjoyed opportunities to be a leader, but being able to give back to a community suffering such devastating loss was exceptionally rewarding.”

Attending Oregon State University in the fall to study Business, Suing believes the things she learned growing up in Mount Angel – where community service is a city-wide tenet – will help her going forward.

“Determining how I can share my gifts and talents with my community will be the first step I take,” she said. “… I hope to always be of service to those who ask and more importantly be of service without being asked.”

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