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Inside Self-Storage Scholarships 2008: Meet Our Esteemed Students

May 31, 2008

7 Min Read
Inside Self-Storage Scholarships 2008: Meet Our Esteemed Students

The Inside Self-Storage Scholarship Program, initiated in 2001, awards five $2,000 grants to students closely affiliated with the industry. Participants must be at least 17 years old and are required to work in the industry or have immediate family members employed by self-storage or related companies. The funds can be used for tuition at any accredited college or university, and can be used to study any designated field. This year’s scholarship winners demonstrated an outstanding commitment to completing higher studies and a determination to succeed.

Kristy Clark, Lakeside, Calif.

"My future affects the future of others," says Kristy Clark, a freshman at Cal Poly Pomona, Calif., who envisions a time when her degree in mechanical engineering will help improve the safety of others. She intends to use her knowledge to help design cars incorporating alternative fuels, and improved safety and mechanical standards. Clark has been accepted into the honors program at Cal Poly and has established a curriculum that will allow her to graduate a year early. She got a jump start on this plan by taking several college-level courses while still in high school. These extra courses and her many volunteer activities did not impair her ability to graduate as salutatorian from River Valley High School in Lakeside, Calif.

Clark participated in several organizations to help improve the life of others. She coordinated Box Tops for Education, helped rebuild a home destroyed by fire and set up and ran a Halloween carnival during 2003 Firestorm, the largest fire in California history.

Clark’s role model has been Ann Marie Wellhouse, her biology teacher and founder of her high school. Wellman’s enthusiasm for her subject led Clark to discover her own passion for science and math. Clark credits Wellman with being the catalyst that gave her a clear direction for her college major. While in the ninth grade, Clark took her teacher’s suggestion and attended an open house at San Diego State University where she "fell in love with the mechanical engineering department." Some day, she is hoping to use her knowledge to develop a flying car.

James Cruso, Westerly, R.I.

James Cruso considers his middle-child position in a family of five siblings to be a blessing. The oldest is 25 and the youngest is nine. He has watched his oldest sister graduate from college and begin a successful life. He has also re-lived the wonder of childhood through helping care for his sister who is nine years younger.

While in high school, Cruso worked for Granite Storage, a facility owned by his father. For the past four years, he has been a member of the honor roll. He was also awarded a letter in three varsity sports and has appeared in several school plays.

"My community is a substantial part of my life," Cruso says. He is head of the Character Education Committee, an organization at his high school that holds fundraisers to benefit needy families. He earned 30 hours community service refereeing at the local YMCA. In addition, he helps during the annual Westerly Library Book sales and participates in the Westerly Chorus.

Although he has not chosen a university yet, Cruso’s ambition is to obtain a degree in civil engineering with a major in business and real estate. He embraces the positive attributes—dignity, pride, courage and self-respect—of his mentor and father to guide him in his life and career.

Regina Olsen, Vashon Island, Wash.

Regina Olsen’s more than 20 years experience as a co-owner of a residential concrete company has proven she is not afraid of hard work. Her duties not only included administration, accounting scheduling, bids and estimates, but also pouring yards of concrete herself. She also owned and managed single-family rental homes. These days, Olsen manages Island Self Storage, where she has hung her hat for more than three years. In addition to initiating several improvements to the business’s operations, she is proud she can remember the names of nearly all her 400 customers.

Despite a busy schedule, this single mother of a son in college has managed to take continuing education classes. She has almost completed her associate’s degree and will be transferring to Washington State University to complete her bachelor’s in business administration with a major in management and operations. "My particular interest is ethics, and I would like to eventually pursue a master’s degree in the field," she says.

Olsen is a member of the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers and the Phi Theta Kappa Society. She loves outdoor activities including hiking, camping, gardening and horsemanship. She assists with the Vashon Island Adult Riders Association, which organizes fundraisers for the benefit and stewardship of Paradise Ridge Park, one of the last equestrian cross-country jumping courses in Washington. She also volunteers for the Vashon Maury Cooperative Preschool, Vashon youth baseball and the local Boy Scouts of America troop.

"My single most important accomplishment in all three groups was setting up a scholarship fund for those children who could not afford dues, equipment or camp fees," she says.

Darby Owenby, Eufaula, Ala.

Darby Owenby wears many hats: father of two girls, student, college graduate, storage facility manager, engineer and a deacon of his church. Still, he is planning to add another degree to his curriculum vitae—a master’s in business administration (MBA).

Owenby, a licensed engineer in five states, has worked in self-storage construction for 10 years. Recently, American Buildings Co. (ABC), the company where he works, was purchased by Nucor Corp. When Nucor upper management visited ABC, Owenby noticed they all held engineering degrees and an MBA. He realized his potential with the company was almost unlimited if he furthered his education and added MBAs to his resume.

The storage veteran has already contributed to the technical improvement of the industry. He was part of the team that helped develop and refine SS-20’s patented tube steel construction system.

Although Owenby says caring for his two young daughters is foremost in his life, he finds time to serve his community and church. His mentor is friend Jack May. May’s daughter was an Honor Society member and head varsity cheerleader. Owenby believes May’s philosophies and outlooks as a parent directly contributed to his daughter’s success. Owenby says he has adopted May’s positive influences to shape the way he raises his own daughters.

I firmly believe that one of the best impacts I can have on society is by doing my best to ensure that the children I raise become responsible and compassionate members of our future society, he says.

Martha Howard, Provo, Utah

Martha Howard already has a running start on her goal of obtaining a degree in sociology. During her last two years in high school she participated in the Running Start program that allowed her to take classes at the local college. While participating, she maintained a 3.93 GPA and was accepted into the international honor society, Phi Theta Kappa. When she graduated from high school, she had earned an associate’s degree. This year she is attending Brigham Young to earn a bachelor’s in sociology with a minor in international development.

Howard is actively involved in her community and church. She has volunteered for several organizations including Hawk Ridge, a therapeutic riding center that helps handicapped children improve mentally and physically through riding horses and contact with other animals. She is also a volunteer with Mama’s Hands, which feeds and clothes the homeless, and House of Hope, a recovery house for abused women.

"One of the things I am most passionate about is international development and improving the living conditions in impoverished countries," Howard says. Next summer she is planning to travel to Africa to gain firsthand experience of the conditions in an underdeveloped nation.

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