Two recipients of summer scholarships sponsored by the Thursday Morning Club shared their experiences with the club at its annual scholarship fund-raising event Jan. 17 at the Madison Community House.
Celeste Post, daughter of Maryann and Randy Post of Madison, attended Girl’s Career Institute (GCI) at Douglass Residential Campus at Rutgers University. Aujer “A.J.” Ding, son of Lu Chai of Madison, attended the Hugh O’Brian Youth (HOBY) Leadership Seminar at Monmouth University, West Long Branch. Both programs were held in June 2012.
In her opening remarks, Diana Krug, the club’s education chairwoman, said that “GCI began in 1947 and enlists 175 students from all over the state. This ‘mini-college’ experience assists young women in career choices and networking.
“HOBY, begun in 1958 by the actor, Hugh O’Brian, enrolls over 9,000 students throughout the country,” Krug said. “Through participation in workshops and lectures in education, arts, business, politics and community service, both programs provide opportunities to hone leadership skills and help students to achieve their highest potential.”
Thursday Morning Club President Anne Lawless, said that the club “was very proud to sponsor both students and hoped they were admitted to the college of their choice.” Lawless added that she, Krug, and Post and her mother attended a luncheon with other scholarship candidates the weekend before GCI was held. “It was a heart-warming experience,” Lawless recalled, and helped “to allay any fears the candidates may have had.”
Madison High School Director of Guidance Brett Levine was on hand to thank the club for its support of Celeste Post and A.J. Ding. Levine noted that Post, a senior, is a flutist with the orchestra with an interest in journalism. Ding, a junior, is active in soccer, track and student council. “HOBY is an important factor in college applications,” Levine advised. The 2011 HOBY scholarship recipient, Michael Lebwohl, was accepted to Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
Post said that GCI was truly an experience that changed her life. She told the club she was able to “set clear and ambitious goals, especially when applying to colleges, and exploring majors and careers. Attending GCI definitely influenced my decision to apply to an all women’s college,” Post said. Post added she continues to stay in touch with her ‘sisters’ in the GCI, remarking that “the entire dorm became a family” during the program at Douglass. Post plays field hockey and participates in spring track, fall drama and spring musical programs at Madison High School. She volunteers with the Madison-based Venture Crew 77, a service unit for older Scouts, and worked with the Venture Crew in its “Black Friday” blood drive and electronics recycling collection, and its drive for the Community Food Bank of New Jersey.
Ding said that “HOBY altered my course of action and my outlook on life.” Inspired by the volunteer programs started by teenagers he met at HOBY, he organized a group that traveled to Zhengzhou in north central China to volunteer at a welfare center for children abandoned because of their disabilities. It was “both humbling and inspiring” for the group to observe that the children were happy despite their circumstances. The volunteers taught English, music, and organized activities.
They fulfilled one boy’s request to compose music to turn one of his poems into a song. The song generated such a “tremendous feeling,” Ding said, that it led him to “realize the true meaning of volunteerism.” On his return to the U.S., Ding established a Philosophy Club to discuss life’s ethical dilemmas. “I’ve become a better leader with a deeper sense of responsibility towards society and those who are disadvantaged,” he concluded. Ding served as president of the sophomore class. His volunteer work includes service projects with the Seeing Eye and Special Olympics.
The Thursday Morning Club owns and operates the Madison Community House, a Nursery School, and a Before and After School Child Care program. Organized in 1896, the Club is a member of both the New Jersey State and General Federation of Women’s Clubs, which sponsor the GCI program. For information about the Thursday Morning Club or membership, call the Community House at (973) 377-0244 or visit www.tmcmch.org.