George M. Dennison Civic Engagement Scholarship

2021 Winners Announced!

MTCC’s George Dennison Civic Engagement Scholarship honors students at MTCC affiliate campuses who have volunteered significant time, energy and resources – while pursuing a degree or certificate – to projects that make a meaningful difference in the lives of others. Half of the funds for each $1000 scholarship have been donated in memory of George M. Dennison by Jane Dennison and sons, Rick and Robert Dennison, and their families. George Dennison was a tireless champion of service and was the co-founder of Montana Campus Compact. The other half of each scholarship is matched by the winners’ institutions.

MTCC selects at least nine current undergraduate students who have completed a minimum of one year of college or community college at a MTCC affiliate campus.

This fall we had a highly competitive group apply for the scholarship. Every applicant is doing exemplary volunteer work and making significant differences in their institutions, communities and the world. Following are the 2021 winners:

Chloe Behan, University of Montana
Junior, Environmental Studies

As a Community Organizer for Black and Pink, Chloe’s service includes supporting queer incarcerated folks by connecting them with pen pals in Missoula. They also work with the 1700 for Liberation, a racial justice organizing group, and have provided information to the City of Missoula on community needs and racial justice.

“As an indigenous person, I feel a need to be able to share resources about rematriation and defense of land and resource rights. I am also interested in implementing reclassification systems that center traditional knowledge and respect tribal cultures.” 

Laurel Bitterman, Montana Technological University
Junior, Environmental Engineering

As a member of the Montana Tech Student Chapter of Engineers Without Borders, Laurel is the project lead for the implementation of latrines in a small community in Quebrada Grande, Nicaragua, a years-long project still ongoing. She also volunteers regularly at the Park Street Community Garden, and the bi-annual highway cleanup.

“I believe that by pairing my environmental engineering education with sustainability, I will gain the knowledge and skills necessary to provide innovative technologies that will advance our world to clean energy, sustainable development, and decreased poverty.”

Quilanna Cheff, Salish Kootenai College
Junior, Psychology and Fine Arts

Quilanna is a Certified Peer Educator (CPE) who donates her time recruiting and training other students to become CPEs. She also works to make the Women for Wellness annual event a success each year.

“I want to see healthy, happy people who are dedicated to being physically and mentally healthy. I want to see all generations protecting one another and helping those who need it.”

Domaneek Crossguns, Blackfeet Community College
Area(s) of Study: Health Sciences/Pre-Nursing

Domaneek volunteers her time tutoring and mentoring youth after school, helping them learn about healthy lifestyles, exercise and the importance of education. She also volunteers time to support the elderly and she teaches bible studies through her church.

“My vision for the world and my community is to see more positivity and opportunities for our youth.”

Laura Detrick, Montana State University
Junior, Music Major

Laura’s passion is music and she spreads her love of music through her volunteer activities with the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) and the Great Falls Symphony Association’s Symphonic Choir. She is also president of the Montana State Music Teachers Association, affiliate of MTNA.

“Many are they who knowingly or unknowingly have great treasure within them and need to know how to reconcile that with the many conflicting messages of life.”

Brenna Hatch, University of Montana
Senior, Geosciences

Brenna served 2 summers as an AmeriCorps VISTA service member with the Idaho Food Bank. She has also been a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer for several years. CASA helps abused and neglected children to have a voice in the court system.

“If everyone could volunteer two hours every month, the world would be a happier and more loving place.”

Jennell Huff, MSU-Northern
Senior, Business Administration/Community Leadership/Criminal Justice

For many years Jennell has volunteered her time for the Montana Elder Fraud and Exploitation Prevention Network and the Wilsall Foundation which grants financial assistance to community members for everything from groceries to keeping their homes. Jennell is currently authoring a tool kit for elder advocacy within the financial community.

“My most impassioned efforts surround the elderly population and financial literacy for residents of all ages. I want to leave a legacy of helping others and leave behind a world free from child and elder abuse, neglect, fraud, and exploitation.”

Aron Kleinsasser, Great Falls College, MSU
Area(s) of Study: Social Sciences/Humanities

Aron volunteers weekly at the Alliance for Youth’s local resource center for homeless. He also regularly visits elderly members of the Union Bethel AME Church in their homes, and he assists with the Alma Jacobs Foundation’s Annual Black Heritage Celebration at the Great Falls Public Library.

“In a time of intense political division, rampant social upheaval, deadly viruses, and severe economic downturns, kindness and understanding are virtues of utmost importance. In my observations, it is often the underprivileged, the poor, and the elderly who suffer the worst. My hope is that I am able to provide, even if only slightly, a bit of kindness and understanding in my interactions.”

Catherine Mulholland, Montana Technological Institute
Sophomore, Environmental Engineering

Because of her deep love for the environment, Catherine volunteers her time with the Montana Conservation Corps, the Environmental Engineers of Montana Tech Highway Cleanup and the Montana Tech Make A Difference Day.

“I have a deep passion for the environment. Being able to spend time outside and make Montana enjoyable for everyone by working on a trail crew or picking up trash brings me closer to the Montana community I love…Everyone I have met while volunteering has taught me something unique that I could not learn in a classroom.”

Nicolas Munoz, University of Montana
Senior, Geography

Nicolas has volunteered for Utah State University’s Student Nutrition Access Center and the Missoula Metropolitan Planning Organization. He also traveled to Sarajevo, Bosnia to volunteer for Collective Aid, a non-governmental organization that provides critical services to refugee populations in the Balkans.

“My vision for my community as well as for the world has been shaped by my volunteer work and service. With that in mind, my vision for the community/world is that people are able to have their needs recognized.”

Haley Olson, Dawson Community College
Allied Health and Pre-Nursing

Haley’s volunteer efforts began with her local FFA (Future Farmers of America) chapter. She also spends many hours annually volunteering for the Breast Cancer Awareness fundraiser, Play4Kay and the Glendive Fall Junkapalooza.

 “I love how involved these activities have helped me become. I have such a stronger love for my communities because of it… I am a big believer that being kind and loving towards others can change the world.”

Krupa Patel, Carroll College
Sophomore, Nursing Major/Business Administration Minor

Krupa offers her helping hands wherever needed while volunteering for the Rocky Mountain Care Center in Helena and at God’s Love. She also volunteers her time at Mercy Flight Explorer Post 131, an ambulance service-oriented group for future medical professionals and others.

 “My vision for the world would be accessible healthcare for all, whether it is a provider or even a registered nurse available 24/7 in all areas. As an individual, I cannot provide care to all rural areas, but I can put myself in a place where there is a need.”

Kaelyn Perrigo, Montana State University
Area(s) of Study: Business Management/Pre-Dental Track

Kaelyn volunteers her time with Helena Food Share and with Helena NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). She also donates food through the Food Share Program and works to bring awareness to others about hunger issues in her community.

 “I want to see a community where everyone comes together to make things happen. Cleaning up the environment, fundraising, taking care of people in need. I want to live in a world where we aren’t harming the planet we live on, to live in a world where everyone is happy and healthy. “

Robert RunningRabbit, Blackfeet Community College
Area(s) of Study: Health Sciences

Robert spends many hours weekly volunteering at the Browning local food bank and at Pets for Life in the Medicine Bear Shelter. His favorite part of volunteering is providing dinner for the homeless at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and giving out presents, knowing that this might be the only gift some will receive all year.

“Growing up in Browning and also being in need at times in my life helps me to remain appreciative and respectful towards some of my fellow Blackfeet. I have gotten to know most of the patrons that frequent the food bank on a first name basis.

Danielle Scanes, Carroll College
Junior, Biology, Chemistry, Spanish/Pre-Med track

The homeless epidemic has been the center of Danielle’s service since the 6th grade. Danielle is a regular volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, the St. Vincent DePaul Food Bank, and Mercy Watch where she supports the homeless through everything from food and meals to housing.

Giving back to the community is my priority in everything I do whether it is socially, politically, educationally, or financially. Socially, I strive to be a role model for those I mentor. Politically, I vote for those who will make the biggest difference for the marginalized and encourage others to exercise their right to vote. Educationally, I push myself to learn more about the inequities in today’s society and what steps need to be taken. Financially, I donate supplies and money to various organizations, the most important donation being my time and talent. “

Angela Weiczorek, Flathead Valley Community College
Area(s) of Study: Medical Laboratory Science

Coming from a military family, and married to a veteran, Angela is well aware of the support that veteran’s organizations provide to military families. Her volunteer efforts aim to give back what she has been given, including volunteering for the Veteran Food Pantry and helping individual veterans to navigate their way to finding needed support through the VA.

“I want to help veterans who are struggling know they have options, and people care about them … The ability to help alleviate just a minor amount of stress in someone’s life is worth all the work.”

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MTCC is grateful for the donation in support of these scholarships from Jane Dennison and sons, Rick and Robert Dennison, and their families.

For more information, or to contact a scholarship winner please contact Josh Vanek, 406-243-5175, vanek@mtcompact.org.