This year the Kenadi Jean Weis Memorial Scholarship was established at Black Hills State University and their inaugural recipient was just chosen. Through an application and selection process by the foundation and a University professor, the scholarship is awarded annually to a graduating senior majoring in the Special Education Program.
The scholarship was created in honor of Kenadi who passed away last year. She was a smart, beautiful and determined five-year-old girl who suffered an anoxic brain injury at birth. Although she was non-verbal and confined to a wheelchair she revealed unique ways to communicate many things. Miss Betty, Kenadi’s Special Education teacher at Mountain View Elementary, not only shaped her life at school, improved her learning, and encouraged peer interaction but loved… really loved her. Miss Betty was the inspiration behind the Kenadi Jean Weis Memorial Scholarship because she displayed kindness and compassion towards her, never once considering her disadvantage a barrier to great achievement.
The Scholarship Selection Board chose their top three applicants before requesting a short essay to the topic, ‘Why I want to be a Special Education Teacher.’ While all candidates displayed the exceptional qualities of a caring SPED teacher, one in particular touched their souls.
Katherine Drake is a Dean’s List student who is active in college basketball and softball pursuing her degree in both Special and Physical Education. She enjoys volunteering her time to Special Olympics and walks for various charities. Her writing speaks of a profession that allows her to make a positive impact on people’s daily lives and being a voice for those who have none. She desires to be in a position that not only inspires others but, to be inspired by them as well, because the only special need that children have is to be loved and accepted.
The Kenadi Jean Weis Foundation is honored to make a contribution toward Katherine’s dream for her future endeavors. All Black Hills State University Special Education majors are encouraged to apply for the scholarship.