A Bright Future for Local Students
By Craig Reed
Lane Electric Cooperative has again recognized students in its service territory for their past work and their future goals. Four people—Melony Burnett, Lucas Dassonville, Maggie Harrison and Andrew Wiley—were awarded Lane Electric scholarship certificates at the co-op’s annual meeting to help them with their college tuition and fees.
A fifth student, Anna Riedmann, was also recognized at the meeting. With a sponsorship from Lane Electric, she was a member of the Oregon contingent of students who participated in the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Youth Tour to Washington, D.C., in June.
Students are pictured with board director Ingrid Kessler.
Melony Burnett is in the midst of a career change. She has been a real estate agent for the past 20 years, entering into that profession after graduating from Springfield High School in 1999.
She admits the success she had working in real estate made it difficult to switch careers, but she began to change directions 2 years ago, attending Lane Community College with a goal of becoming a counselor.
“I’ve been helping people in their lives in real estate, but now I want to help in a different way,” she says.
Melony earned her psychology prerequisites at the community college and has been accepted into the Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon. Her major is psychology. After earning her bachelor’s degree, she plans to work toward a master’s degree.
“I want to make a positive impact in my community,” says Melony, a resident of Lowell. “I know a number of people who have gone through counseling or have battled depression. I’ve seen it up close. I feel there’s a strong need for mental health counselors. I want to help.”
Melony says she is grateful for the scholarship from Lane Electric.
“School is financially stressful,” she says. “Every little bit makes a big difference. I want the experience, I want the education, I want the career change. I’m thankful for the help.”
Since attending a robotics camp as a fifth grader, Maggie Harrison has had an interest in robots, how they work and how they can benefit people.
With the help of a Lane Electric Cooperative scholarship, Maggie plans to pursue her interest at Oregon State University this fall. She will major in mechanical engineering.
“I want to build robots that help people, robots that are accessible and affordable to everybody,” she says. “My goal is to be a robotic engineer, building robots to help the vast majority of people, not just the rich people who can afford them.”
Maggie is a 2022 graduate of Oakridge High School. She was a busy student who was the class president her junior and senior years, student council co-captain, a volunteer with the school’s First Lego League, and a member of both the National Honor Society and the National Technical Honor Society. Maggie took several classes that earned her dual credit from Lane Community College. The past 2 summers, she participated in a 3-week Girls Who Code program online.
Maggie participated in volleyball for 4 years, basketball for three years and track and field for two years.
She was valedictorian of her class.
Maggie says the Lane Electric scholarship “will help me pursue my dreams that I’ve had since I was really little. I’m thankful to Lane Electric for the help.”
Lucas Dassonville designed and built a robot that picked up balls and launched them 10 feet into the air before falling into a goal.
Lucas has been on the South Eugene High School robotics team for the past 4 years. He is ready to take his interest to Oregon State University, where he plans to major in mechanical engineering.
“Robotics took up most of my time outside of school,” says Lucas, a recent graduate of South Eugene High School.
Lucas was a co-captain of his school’s robotics team and was a student lead for computer-aided design. At one robotics competition, he won the Engineering Inspiration Award.
“I learned a lot in high school, and I think it prepared me well for college,” he says. “I’m excited to get started.”
In applying for the Lane Electric scholarship, Lucas says he learned a lot about co-ops and how they benefit their members.
“I’m really thankful for the scholarship and the support from Lane Electric,” he says.
After taking several College Now classes at Cottage Grove High School, Andrew Wiley says he believes he is prepared for his next step in education.
A Dorena resident, Andrew will use his Lane Electric Cooperative scholarship to attend Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT) in Klamath Falls this fall. The recent graduate plans to major in renewable energy engineering. He is also interested in electrical engineering.
“OIT reached out to me,” Andrew says. “I was impressed by the school, and it has the interesting renewable energy program. My career goal is to be an engineer in that area.”
During his years at Cottage Grove High, Andrew was involved in Key Club, a student group that reaches out to local organizations and provides volunteer help during events. He was also a counselor at Outdoor School for grade school students and helped with local elementary school activities. He competed in cross country and track and field.
Andrew learned about the Lane Electric scholarship when he saw information about it in Ruralite. He says he learned more about the co-op when he researched answers to the questions on the scholarship application.
“I really like being supported by someone bigger than myself to help me reach my goals,” he says. “It helps me believe I can do it. College is expensive, and every little bit less I have to worry about eases me.”
Anna Riedmann, a senior at McKenzie High School, had never been east of the West Coast states. Being a member of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Youth Tour and traveling across the United States was quite the experience.
Anna joined a group of Oregon students who took a flight out of Portland on June 18. After viewing numerous memorials and landmarks in the Washington, D.C., area, the group returned June 24.
“Highlights were getting to meet other people from around the state and then getting to go to the different monuments that I’d only heard about,” Anna says.
Those monuments included the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery, where students witnessed the changing of the guard ceremony. Anna was impressed with the Washington National Cathedral because of its size, architecture and history.
“I’d heard of these places, but not the details,” Anna explains. “Most of it was pretty new to me. Seeing them in person is a lot different than just hearing about them.
“I am incredibly grateful to Lane Electric for this opportunity. I’ll encourage junior class members to apply. I hope other students get this opportunity.”