Megawatt Scholarship - Putnam Sentinel
Pictured above are (left to right): Kristin Day, Director of Operations at Whirlpool’s Ottawa plant; Allison Choi, holding the certificate that recognizes her as the 2018 Megawatt Scholarship award winner for this area; her father, Adam Choi; and her mother, Sue Choi. (Putnam Sentinel/Martin Verni)

PUTNAM COUNTY — As One Energy worked to raise the wind turbine now providing an estimated 30 percent of the power used annually by the Whirlpool plant in Ottawa, so too did the commitment by both companies to support the next generation of area students. For each of the next 18 years (20 years total), the Megawatt Scholarship will provide $5,000 to a high school senior planning on pursuing higher education in a STEM related field. This program accompanies every turbine built by One Energy for Whirlpool. By next year, the companies expect to be offering a total of nine such scholarships throughout the state.

“We had some amazing students that sent in applications. There were dozens of them,” says One Energy’s Angela Deboskey. “One of the things we don’t require is, we don’t make the check out to the school. We make it out to the student. It’s the student’s discretion on how they spend it. This really adds a fantastic freedom in how [students] might want to apply it to their bill or if they want to use it for books and [other supplies].”

“The students had some amazing academic careers, as well as extracurriculars,” Deboskey continues. “That was really neat to see. There was also a wide range of STEM choices from the applicants. They were going into anything from nursing, to mathematics, to chemical engineering, and everything in-between. There was a wide range there. As well as some students who were seeking a two-year degree, and some who were seeking a four-year degree. It was really neat to be able to go through those. It was a big honor.”

The biggest honor, of course, goes to this year’s awardee, Allison Choi of Columbus Grove Local Schools (Although the turbine was not yet completed by this time in 2017, the scholarship became active last year and was awarded to Bradley Schmitz).

“I think what differentiated [Allison] was just her sheer accomplishments from an academic standpoint,” notes Kristin Day, Director of Operations for the Whirlpool plant in Ottawa. “And then, from an extracurricular standpoint, she really stood out from everybody else.”

In addition to excelling academically, Allison participates in cross country and track. She is also involved with National Honor Society, the LEO club, student council, the Bulldog Press (the school’s newspaper), a student book club, and the Columbus Grove School Choir.

“I try and put school before everything else,” Allison says when asked how she balances all of these commitments. “So, if need to get homework done, I’ll get it done. And then, sports will come after that, but if I need to skip something here or there, it’s okay.”

This fall, Allison plans to pursue a degree in Chemical Engineering at Tufts University. When asked why this particular field of study, she says, “My Junior year, halfway through the school year, I was taking chemistry, and I realized that I really enjoyed chemistry.”

“I already knew that engineering was option for me, because both my parents are engineers…So, I already had anidea of engineering in my mind. I just wasn’t sure what type of engineering. And then, when I took Chemistry, I sort of just knew that this is what I want to do.”

Allison also credits Columbus Grove Schools science teacher, Mrs. Baumgartner, for encouraging her to pursue chemistry, even beyond what the school usually offers. “She helps me a lot,” Allison says of Baumgartner. “I’m doing an independent study, where I study chemistry for the AP test. [Columbus Grove] doesn’t offer an AP Chemistry course, and I still wanted to see if I could get credit for chemistry. Mrs. Baumgartner has done a really good job of making sure we’re on task and that we have all the materials we need and everything. It’s really nice to have someone like that supporting you.”

The support Allison enjoys is now community-wide, as emphasized by Day. “I think that it’s a really big opportunity for us as a company to support the field of STEM. So, really looking at science, technology, engineering, and math; and then really promoting that talent that is coming up as future leaders. I think that’s the biggest opportunity for us, to really invest in the community and then to continue to promote those future leaders…We are always looking for great talent.”