Alta Vista Students Receive Hopkins ScholarshipsJune 18, 2015

Last month, two more students from Kansas City’s Alta Vista Charter School were named the latest recipients of a scholarship fund set up  by Rockhurst University students to honor a high-school student killed near campus.

Ondrea Lapadino and Elicia Reuscher were recognized during Alta Vista’s annual senior and family dinner. Both will receive scholarships from the Nelson E. Hopkins Jr. Scholarship Fund, which was established in honor of Nelson E. Hopkins Jr., a college-bound Alta Vista student who was shot to death in December 2009 at 54th Street and Lydia Avenue, near the Rockhurst University campus. The crime remains unsolved.

Nelson’s life and tragic death inspired members of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority at Rockhurst to establish the scholarship fund and organized the Hopkins Skip and Run 5k as a fundraiser for the scholarship. Each year since 2010, the popularity of the race has grown, including being named the best race of its size by the Kansas City Sports Commission in two different years.

“It’s really exciting and it’s definitely a lot of work to put the race on each year,” Melissa Fenske, a Rockhurst senior who was the race’s co-chair in 2014, said during an April presentation of the check for the race proceeds. “But all of the work everyone puts into it is worth it when you get to see the students benefit directly from this.”

The organizers celebrated some milestones in 2015 — they found out that in 2014, the Hopkins Skip and Run 5k raised the single largest amount in its history — $6,511, all of which will be used to fund scholarships.

This spring, Corina Guzman became the first Hopkins scholarship recipient to receive her undergraduate degree. In May, Guzman graduated from Avila University and is preparing to pursue medical school.

“College wasn’t easy, but the scholarship boosted my desire to keep going,” Guzman said. “I knew what kind of person Nelson was, so to have received this scholarship in his honor was inspiring.”

Bill Kostar, a friend of the Hopkins family who assists with the scholarship fund, applauded the efforts of the Rockhurst community and of the students in Alpha Sigma Alpha and Pi Kappa Alpha in particular, who each year volunteer to plan the Hopkins Skip and Run 5k. It’s a lot of work, but Kostar added that it’s an effort that assures both Nelson’s legacy and opportunities for generations of Alta Vista students.

“As important as it is to look back, this scholarship is all about the future,” he said.

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