Berrien Community Foundation Awards $368,000 In Scholarships

Berrien Community Foundation is helping college-bound students start building the foundation of their lives by awarding $368,000 in scholarships this year. 

A photo showing three people sitting at a table talking - a student scholar and two donors.Berrien Community Foundation awarded scholarships at its annual Scholarship Celebration June 15 at Grand Upton Hall at Lake Michigan College. This year’s theme, “Building Blocks of Life,” celebrates the next step in many students’ lives: going off to college. The foundation awards scholarships to high school seniors, adults returning to the classroom and current college students. 

“Many of our scholars are taking the next step in life to create a foundation that will forever shape them,” said Berrien Community Foundation President Lisa Cripps-Downey said. “College is so expensive. Thanks to our generous donors, we can celebrate these students and help them on their journeys.”

Two scholarship programs were added to the family of scholarships Berrien Community Foundation offers each year: Steven Marsh and Family Scholarship, and the James and Bernadette McKittrick Agricultural and Environmental Scholarship. To date, more than $3.8 million has been awarded in scholarships since the scholarship program began.

BCF scholarships are established by donors to support students who excel in academics, community service, the arts, or are pursuing a particular career path. 

“Each year, we receive hundreds of scholarship applications from graduating seniors, current college students and adults looking to return to the classroom,” said BCF Program Director Susan Matheny. “This year, there were over 1,000 applications! We’re so appreciative of our community volunteers who sit on committees, review applications, and make award recommendations. They help because they know the value these scholarships bring to students.”

The 2023 Berrien Community Foundation Scholars are:A group photo of 70 students who received scholarships from Berrien Community Foundation.

All God’s Children Community Choir Scholarship: Rodger Payne (Lakeshore); Arcadia Gardens Scholarship: Julianna Koehler (Michigan Lutheran); Edna Bender Scholarship: Do Hyun Cho (Berrien Springs); Berrien Community Foundation Special Recognition: Camryn Brown (Coloma), Ella Shaffer (Watervliet); Bryce Boothby Family Scholarship: Trinerty Thompson (Benton Harbor); Coach U Scholarship: Alijah Cleve (Benton Harbor), Davionte Tasker (Benton Harbor); Marion and Dan Crossman Scholarship: Sydney Buch (Michigan Lutheran); Delta Kappa Gamma Rho Chapter Women in Education Scholarship: Jayden Koehler (Martin Luther College), Karen Smith (Western Michigan University); Drews Scholar: Ethan Ganum (Lakeshore); Dunn Scholarship: Joy Bradley (Eastern Michigan University), Katherine Phillips (Lake Michigan College); Jeffrey Evan Demko Scholarship: Hannah Plukas (Bridgman), Elise Schmaltz (Bridgman): Felland Scholarship: Amber Case (Western Michigan University), Chakeemala Jones (Lake Michigan College); The Patrick Freehling Memorial Scholarship: James Jasper (Michigan State University), Elise Schmaltz (Bridgman); Fox Family Scholarship: Benjamin Ashby (River Valley), Joshua Seifert (River Valley); The Patricia Gagliardo Kutz-Holland Trades Scholarship: Gracyn Shoaf (Bridgman); Jameson Matthew Gargano Memorial Scholarship: Nathan Hawks (Lakeshore); John and Dede Howard Instrumental Music Scholarship: Timothy Dokter (Western Michigan University), Jeremy Lane (Western Michigan University); Heart of Cook Scholarship: Megan Franklin (Buchanan), Reid Haskins (Bridgman), Cadden Krieger (River Valley), Madison Lee (Berrien Springs), Isaiah Nash (Homeschool), Ella Rimes (St. Joseph); Jean M. Heisner Medical Technician Scholarship: Kyersten Long (Watervliet), Madison Brink (Lake Michigan College); David A. Hicks Scholarship for the Arts: Dajah Parker (Countryside); The SW MI Human Trafficking Task Force Scholarship: Chakeemala Jones (Lake Michigan College); Insurance Management Service Scholarship: Jason Madden (Benton Harbor); Lehmann-Peapples Trades Scholarship: Calab Burch (Berrien Springs), Jacob Haygood (Lake Michigan College), Gracyn Shoaf (Bridgman); Sondra J. Kaminski Scholarship: Cooper Trumbley (St. Joseph); Sondra J. Kaminski Soccer Scholarship: Cristina Avello (Our Lady of the Lake); Leonard & Marion Krall Scholarship: Kristina Swanson (Watervliet); Maybury Scholarship: Korrina Lentsch (Buchanan); Howard D. Merchant Scholarship: Xavier Gibbons (St. Joseph); Lora Wile Miller Scholarship: Anna Prosser (Lakeshore), Jaxon Seddon (Buchanan); Ronald H. Miller Journalism Scholarship: Davionte Tasker (Benton Harbor); Carol A. Oehlhaffen Our Lady of the Lake Scholar: Cristina Avello (Our Lady of the Lake), Vincent DeStazio (Our Lady of the Lake), David Milanowski (Our Lady of the Lake), Stella Rosenbaum (Our Lady of the Lake), Noah Siglow (Our Lady of the Lake); James and Bernadette McKittrick Agricultural and Environmental Scholarship: Kyle Dargus (Bridgman), Nathan Hawks (Lakeshore); F.A. Mason Penwell Nursing Scholarship: Grace Jewell (Lake Michigan College), Jinyoung Jung (Lake Michigan College); Cora B. Parkhurst Memorial Scholarship: Kaari Hurley (Berrien Springs); Passaro Family Volunteerism Scholarship: Noah Hadley (Lakeshore); Steven Marsh and Family Scholarship: Macey Springer (River Valley); June Rollinger Family Scholarship: Emilee Demski (Eau Claire); Stoub Family Scholarship for Working Students: Lexie Parmley (New Buffalo); St. Joseph Class of 1970 Scholarship: Anijah Dancer (Benton Harbor); Ken & Jeanne Thomas Memorial Scholarship: Makaihla Hayes (St. Joseph), Kelsey Renfro (Michigan State University); Trefz Family Scholarship: Joshua Seifert (River Valley); Kierstyn Thompson (Niles); Frederick S. Upton Foundation Opportunity Scholarship: Kayla Baich (Buchanan), Jaylen Eidam (New Buffalo), Jasmin Galarza (Andrews University), Jacob Haygood (Lake Michigan College), Madelynn Isbrecht (Lake Michigan College), Noemi Mendez (Western Michigan University), Davionte Tasker (Benton Harbor), Andrew Walker (Buchanan); Arthur & Bonna Vanderlyn Scholarship: Rylee Ackerman (Hartford), Andres Cardoso (Hartford), Rylee Deckard (Hartford), Mitzy Grana Diaz (Hartford), Jennifer Perales (Hartford), Jose Silva (Hartford), Brooke Modro (Hartford); Rodney Weir Marching Band Scholarship: Andrew Jackson (Niles); Welch Family Scholarship: Anijah Dancer (Benton Harbor), Ashton Sanders (Benton Harbor) Kelsey Renfro (Michigan State University); Alton & Millie Wendzel Scholarship: Samantha Dietz (Watervliet), Harmony Dohm (Michigan Lutheran); Wilson Family Scholarship: Ashton Shall (Homeschool)

In addition to the scholars listed above, there were students who received renewable scholarships from previous years. 

Scholarship applications for next year will be available at high school counseling offices and on the Foundation's website in December 2023. For information on starting a scholarship, contact Lisa Cripps-Downey at