Last week, Mono County high school seniors celebrated graduation throughout the Eastern Sierra. The Mono Lake Committee awarded $1,000 scholarships to two very deserving seniors: Kylee Lange from Coleville High School and Sergio Santillan-Leal from Lee Vining High School. Along with submitting a scholarship application, we ask students to go to Mono Lake and write an essay that answers the question “why do places like Mono Lake matter?” We received beautiful essays, many that relayed the struggles of the past two years, and how Mono Lake brought students some peace. Kylee’s and Sergio’s essays, however, really stood out to us.
Kylee shared her deep connection to Mono Lake and wrote: “Places like Mono Lake matter because there is so much history and connections for indigenous people… The lake along with other scarce artifacts are a way for native people to connect with their land and feel the history and connections to the sacred grounds. Feeling the breeze, and smelling the fresh air, watching the birds fly around, land on the tufas, and the shore, I imagine what life was like for my family before colonization, as they would move around during different seasons and hunt accordingly.” You can read the rest of Kylee’s essay here.
Sergio’s essay was heartfelt and made us feel like we were with him at Mono Lake. He wrote: “What does Mono Lake genuinely mean to me? Water? Nature? Our souls? Our futures? I honestly didn’t know until I approached the shore of this breathtaking place at the beginning of sunset and stepped away from the wooden bridge. I stepped on the soft dirt full of mud and felt no longer connected to the modern world but immersed in the world of nature, where I took my vans off and stepped on true love.” You can read the rest of Sergio’s essay here.
We thank and applaud all of the applicants and wish them well as they move on from high school!
The Committee supports students pursuing higher education with two $1,000 scholarships. Mono County resident high school seniors who have firm plans to attend college or other further education within a year of graduation qualify for the Mono Lake Committee Scholarship. Thank you to Mono Lake Committee members, who make the scholarship program possible. If you are interested in the Mono Lake Committee Scholarship program, please contact me by email.
Top photo by Santiago Escruceria.