senior Kyle Wunderlin was chosen Thursday night from 13 applicants in a reception sponsored by the Board of Directors at the .
Wunderlin was awarded a $5,000 scholarship named in honor of the MIHS alumna, who is best known as President Barack Obama's mother but was a noted cultural anthropologist in her own right. Wunderlin said the scholarship will be put to good use in the pre-architectural program at the University of Michigan.
Each applicant was honored at Thursday's reception and received a copy of the recently published book on Dunham's life, signed by author Janny Scott: "A Singular Woman, The Untold Story of Barack Obama's Mother."
The applicants in addition to Wunderlin were Alyson Abe, Dakota Chenowith, Hailey Gullstad, Michaela Lee, Hailey Lepp, Tara Nielson, Sonya Saepoff, Liana Shibuya, Alyssa Suhm, Sarah Taylor and Karissa Walker. The application process required teacher recommendations, an essay and school transcript.
The featured speaker, Mercer Island High School graduate Karen K. Russell, talked about how her father sparked her interest in politics and public service with daily breakfast conversations about the day's news. Russell, a successful employment attorney at Davis Wright Tremaine, attended Georgetown University and Harvard Law School, and in the last presidential election worked on Obama's campaign. She noted that as President of Harvard's Law Review, Obama could have had any legal job he wanted, but he chose to be a community organizer. Russell cautioned the young soon-to-be-graduates that they may not "find a job with that perfect sweet spot," and may need to meet their goals through supplemental community service or volunteerism. She told the girls to guard their reputations, trust their instincts and laugh often.
Russell's father, former , told his daughter when she was a young woman preparing to leave home,"Wherever you go in the world, you'll be better able to take care of yourself than any man can, no matter the time, no matter the place."
The audience included nearly ten former Mercer Island High school teachers, and a former school librarian--many who were there when Stanley Ann Dunham was a student (Dunham gradutaed in 1960).