For more than three decades, Walter Dorn served as the volunteer host of “Musical Memories” at WGTS 91.9, a two-hour long program aired on Saturday nights that revisited songs from the 30s and 40s. After his passing in 2009, the Walter Dorn Scholarship was established by the station to support communication students at Washington Adventist University, WGTS 91.9 parent company, and to continue Dorn’s legacy.
Dorn’s daughters, Jacquie Paul and Sharon Brunnabend, made the initial contributions to start the fund that now provides between $30,000- $50,000 each year in tuition assistance. As soon as she heard about the idea for the scholarship, Paul said she was happy to get on board and donate money to the radio station that her father loved for so many years.
“It was not something I ever remember discussing with him, but I think he would have been surprised and thrilled,” Paul said, recalling her father’s passion for the station and his willingness to help the student workers in need. Presently, almost all of the students working at WGTS 91.9 receives some form of subsidy from the fund. On average, each student receives approximately $3,000 dollars a year, but the amount varies depending on each situation.
Jamichael Folson, a junior broadcast journalism major at WAU, began receiving the tuition assistance two years ago. He is grateful for the scholarship and all the blessings that come with it. “It would be really hard for me to go to school without it” he said, “It provides a way for me to chase my dreams.”
Ben Manzano, a senior nursing major, feels equally fortunate to receive the assistance. “The scholarship was the answer to a lot of my prayers” he said, “It’s been a blessing to not only me but also my parents,” Manzano said, adding that he would certainly donate to the fund after he graduates. “I know what it’s like to be in need and not have anyone care, so I would definitely help someone else out.”
Eric Waicaga, a senior nursing major who moved from Kenya to attend WAU, has been receiving subsidy for two years and says it lightens his financial burdens and helps him pursue his goals. “It really helps me a lot,” he said, “I feel so lucky to receive the additional help.”
The rising cost of living and a slow economy make programs like the Dorn Scholarship not merely a blessing but invaluable to the students, says WGTS 91.9 Vice President John Konrad. “We need more support to continue the fund,” he said “ the scholarship has already helped so many, especially the international students, but we need more backing to stay fully funded and offer the chance of higher education to as many students as possible.”
By Barby Kulakov