Leah Shelton, awarded a $1,000 “Live Your Dream” scholarship by Soroptimist International of the Sierras at its annual ceremony last week, spoke with honesty and humility about the distinction.
“It’s an honor to know that so many people have this faith in me,” Shelton said inside Yosemite Gateway Restaurant’s banquet room April 20. “I’m just now realizing I should have always had it in myself.”
Shelton, who recently received certification for medical coding and is pursuing a business degree, said without the Soroptimist organization and her family, including husband Juan and 8-month-old son Phoenix, she may have never found that faith.
“Knowing someday I will lead as his example throughout his life lit a fire inside me,” Shelton said as she smiled at Phoenix. “Ultimately, my dream is to fulfill all of his ... and without (Juan’s) hard work, determination, and constant support, all these goals I have so far achieved would remain only dreams.”
Shelton, along Heather Todd and Kristina Tallent, were three chosen for the “Live Your Dream” scholarship, which presents each a $1,000 and $100 gift card to follow their educational and career goals.
Tallent, Oakhurst Health & Wellness Centre’s social services director, said the award would help her provide for seven in her household while furthering her education to an eventual master’s degree.
“It’s been a challenge for me, through many obstacles, to be the provider for a big family,” Tallent said. “And this is definitely going to help with that. I’ve lived here for 30 years and it feels awesome to give back to the community, while getting an award for it too.”
Along with the “Live Your Dream” winners, were “Women of Distinction” awards to Laura Norman of Sierra Tel, Vicki Burkhalter of La Sierra Guild and Kiwanis, and Fern Facchino of Oakhurst Sierra Rotary and the Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park.
Sara Wolters, Nancy Fikkert, and Kristen Ambrose were all chosen for “Women Helping Women” awards in their work with the Helping One Woman (H.O.W.) charity group, as well as Tamara Tackett Dent, a piano/voice teacher and lactation educator available 24 hours a day.
Attendees included friends and family of award winners, many from Soroptimist International of the Sierras, and its organization’s regional governor-elect Tana Elizando, who oversees some 1,000 members in 35 clubs throughout Central California.
Details: soroptimistofthesierras.org, (559) 683-1661.