Snowmass Rotary gives vocational-technical scholarships |

Snowmass Rotary gives vocational-technical scholarships

Cynthia Berecek/Special to the Sun

As Ladibel Bonilla and Edwin Membreno, both 2013 graduates of Basalt High School, chose their career paths, they probably didn’t imagine that scholarships were in their future. Students attending public schools in the Roaring Fork Valley know that scholarship money is bountiful from many local philanthropic organizations as long as they meet the criteria and are accepted into an accredited four-year institution of higher learning. To complement the abundance of scholarship funds available, our local schools are blessed with, and can take credit for, students who excel academically and who are deserving of every cent they can earn through scholarships. It’s a win-win situation in our valley — brilliant college-bound students who need tuition assistance and institutions with money to assist.

But what happens to those students who, among a class of academics, choose a different path, one that does not fit neatly into an academic track? The Snowmass Village Rotary Club looked at the demographics of BHS graduating seniors and learned that there is little, if any, scholarship money available to students pursuing technical fields including carpentry, auto mechanics, fields in all construction trades, culinary, cosmetology and many others that can launch careers with decent paying jobs after fulfilling a two-year program. These are the fields that serve as the backbone of American society and make civilized life possible for all of us. These are the jobs that will be sorely needed when our country recovers from the current economic recession and will suddenly need thousands of skilled workers in every field of the trades. And unfortunately, these are the career paths, and the students, that have been the most overlooked in terms of scholarship awards, recognition and importance.

Snowmass Rotary parted ways with conventional thinking and allocated all of its scholarship money this year to students pursuing vocation-technical or two-year programs. Bonilla, an accomplished musician, will attend Colorado Mountain College’s music program, aspiring to achieve a certificate as a music teacher and producer. With this certificate, Bonilla can teach music programs and camps to younger students. He has been active in the Buddy Program throughout high school, and he earned the distinguished level of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts. Membreno, who is passionate about auto mechanics, will attend an auto-tech program at Lincoln College of Technology in Denver. He aspires to open his own auto shop — in his words, “the best shop in the valley.” Membreno is employed by Walmart in Glenwood Springs and has worked his way up to head cashier and trainer. He has been instrumental in raising money for children’s programs, even volunteering to get wet in a dunking booth.

Snowmass Village Rotary congratulates both young men on their achievements and wishes them successful futures. The club raises money for international causes and local service projects and contributes toward Rotary International’s primary goal of eradicating polio worldwide. The club’s main fundraiser is the Snowmass Wine Festival, which will be on Sept. 14 this year. To buy tickets or join the club, visit

Cynthia Berecek is president of the Snowmass Village Rotary Club.


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