2024 Mono Lake Committee Scholarship recipients

Last month, Mono County high school seniors celebrated graduation throughout the Eastern Sierra. The Mono Lake Committee awarded $1,000 scholarships to two very deserving seniors: Kaelyn Lange from Coleville High School and Alden Seiberling 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 harsh 2023 winter, and how Mono Lake brought students some peace. Kaelyn’s and Alden’s essays, however, really stood out to us.

Kaelyn’s essay emphasized that Mono Lake is significant because her connection to this place is not just lifelong, but generational. Kaelyn wrote, “I sit here with the satisfaction of knowing this lake took care of my family, and how my family also took care of the lake.” We appreciated her description of the reciprocal nature of the Kudzadika’a Tribe’s relationship with Mono Lake. Her essay detailed the many ways that the Tribe have been caretakers of this area since long before the Mono Lake Committee existed, and how their stewardship has contributed to her choice to study environmental science. You can read the rest of Kaelyn’s essay here.

Scholarship recipient Alden Seiberling with Geoff McQuilkin, Mono Lake Committee Executive Director. Photo by Geoff McQuilkin.

Alden’s essay showed her connection with Mono Lake through a description of many of the lake’s different moods and seasons. She wrote about the duality of Mono Lake as someone who grew up near it, describing both its international importance and also that it is “the quiet background of my life.” We appreciated Alden’s concluding statement that because of Mono Lake, “I have learned that we are connected across continents, that life can thrive even in water three times saltier than the ocean, and most importantly, I have learned to take a moment to appreciate the astounding beauty that is around me every day.” You can read the rest of Alden’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 Geoff McQuilkin.