The Ruby Rutnik Scholarship Fund has announced that Jada Jarvis and Vela Culbert are each recipients of a $2,500 award to pursue higher education.
Jada Jarvis, a 2019 graduate of Antilles School on St. Thomas, will attend a program in culture and media studies at the Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, which is part of the New School in New York City. The daughter of Karen Jarvis and Mathew Jarvis, she was described by one of her teachers as someone who “leads through action. She doesn’t just talk about her beliefs; she lives by them.” Jarvis has worked as a fashion model throughout high school and been a member of the National Honor Society since her junior year at Antilles.
Vela Culbert is entering her junior year at Goucher College near Baltimore, Md., where she is pursuing an individualized program combining coursework in business, professional writing and communications. She currently serves as a student representative on the college’s board of trustees. A graduate of the Gifft Hill School on St. John, Culbert has won the Ruby Rutnik scholarship twice before. She is spending her summer working at a McDonald’s in Omaha, Neb. Culbert is the daughter of Keryn Bryan of St. John.
Now in its 23rd year, the Ruby Rutnik Scholarship Fund awards up to $5,000 to qualified female students in honor of Ruby Rutnik, who grew up on St. John and was an outstanding softball pitcher at Antilles School. Ruby was a senior at American University when she died in a car accident in 1996. Heartbroken by their tragedy but resilient in spirit, her family organized a softball tournament in 1997 for female high school students throughout the Virgin Islands as a way to fund the scholarship.
In 2014, the Rutnik family decided to end the tournaments and use the funds already raised to establish an endowment through the Gifft Hill School on St. John. This is especially appropriate as Ruby was one of the original preschool students when the school was founded as the Pine Peace School in 1978.
The goal of the scholarship is to ease the burden of paying for higher education, especially for those attending colleges and universities off island. Since its inception, the fund has awarded a total of more than $170,000 to more than three dozen recipients.
Those wishing to contribute to the scholarship fund are asked to make their checks payable to Gifft Hill School (noting RRSF on the bottom of the check) and mail to Gifft Hill School, PO Box 1657, St. John, VI 00831.