Saint Therese, a nonprofit senior living organization, awarded two $2,000 educational scholarships to local high school students for enriching the lives of seniors in their communities.

Nehita Onwubuya, 17, of Blaine, and Sophia Johnson, 17, of Andover, were among dozens of high-schoolers who submitted applications. Winners were selected based on a demonstrated commitment to seniors and impact of volunteering on the student.

Onwubuya, a Blaine High School student, volunteers at The Landmark of Fridley as a health aide serving memory care residents.

Onwubuya says her volunteer experience provides a sturdy foundation for her career saying she has been called to advocate for individuals impacted by dementia.

“There have been times where I am sitting a memory care room, but the inhabitant is in 1947 waiting to board a plane to Canada,” Onwubuya said. “I don’t know how or why, but I’m right with them. And I know there is no place else I would rather be.”

Johnson attends Andover High School and has been volunteering weekly at Arbor Oaks Senior Living for more than two years. Johnson says the residents have taught her to seek out the joy in life and to share that joy with others by showing gratitude and kindness.

“Their gratitude, kindness, perseverance through difficult times, ability to find joy even in limited circumstances and their examples of pure love will always inspire me. I hope as I grow older, I will be able to apply these many lessons my dear friends have taught me,” Johnson said.

Johnson will attend Brigham Young University where she will begin studying for a bachelor’s degree in special education. Onwubuya will pursue a nursing degree at the University of Minnesota.

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