The Nineteenth Century Charitable Association presents scholarship awards to OPRF students

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By Community Editor

Courtesy Jerry Hills

The Nineteenth Century Charitable Association Awarded two scholarships at its annual Award Luncheon on May 6. The Scholarship Committee presented four-year renewable scholarships to Oak Park and River Forest High School Seniors Margaret Blaha and Shourouk Abdalla at the association's Oak Park headquarters. OPRFHS Superintendent Dr. Steven Isoye, Head Dean Peter Nixon, counselor Carolyn Ojikutu and assistants Sharon Martinek and Kim Asbury were also present.

"This year's class of outstanding candidates presented a difficult choice for the Scholarship Committee," said Chairperson Joyce Carey. "We personally interviewed over 40 applicants. Selection criteria was based on several factors including academics, financial need, and service to the school and community.

Margaret (Maggie) Blaha is an honors student at OPRFHS, ranked amongst the top of her class and a member of the Cum Laude Society. Maggie is an accomplished dancer and varsity dance team choreographer, captain of the varsity soccer team, and a tireless advocate for special needs students through "Opportunity Knocks" and the "Best Buddies" mentoring program for which she serves as president. Margaret will attend Notre Dame University where she will pursue a degree in business.

Shourouk Abdalla was born in Oak Park into a bicultural Egyptian-American family and at age nine moved to Alexandria, Egypt. After living through and participating in Egypt's Arab Spring, she and her family returned to Oak Park in 2012. Shourouk has embraced both cultures, giving her a unique perspective on life. She is a committed volunteer. While in Egypt she was active in Rotary International's Interact Club, a service group for youth. Shourouck has been accepted to attend DePaul University where she hopes to study international relations.

The Nineteenth Century Charitable Association Founder's Memorial Scholarship Trust was established in 1953 to fund scholarships for young women from OPRFHS. There are currently 17 recipients in the program who must maintain a 3.0 or better grade point average, and receive two letters of recommendation from professors or advisors to maintain the funding. Since 1953, scholarships have been distributed to over 900 students with a 95% completion rate and most going on for higher education.

Founded in 1891, the Association is dedicated to fostering education through onsite programs and college scholarships, as well as supporting charitable endeavors in the community and enrichment program, Programs are on Mondays from October through April and feature science, social sciences, literature, art, music and an eclectic evening series. All are welcome. The Association will present the internationally acclaimed Avalon String Quartet for a six concert series in 2013/14. For more information on any of these programs, please visit

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