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North Star Youth Partnership Awards $15,000 Grant McKee and Robert Caldwell Service & Leadership Scholarships To 10 Prescott-Area Students

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (June 23, 2022): Four students from Bagdad High School and six from Tri-City College Prep were awarded Grant McKee and Robert Caldwell Service and Leadership scholarships through North Star Youth Partnership, a program of Catholic Charities.  

The scholarships are named in recognition of Grant McKee and his cousin, Robert Caldwell, two of the Prescott Hotshot firefighters who perished in the 2013 Yarnell Fire. “We are honored to help carry on the memory of these amazing fire fighters who were so important to the community,” said Catholic Charities Community Services Executive Director of Northern Arizona Cathy Peterson. “Particularly as this is our 25th anniversary year for North Star Youth Partnership.”

Cary Taylor with the Paul and Patricia Taylor Foundation has supported the scholarship fund since 2014, donating $20,000 to the scholarship fund, some of which will be used for next year’s scholarships. The scholarships are awarded to students who exemplify Robert and Grant’s giving spirit. American Legion Post 6 - The Sons of the American Legion in Prescott also contributed $500 to help support the scholarship fund.

“Grant McKee and Robert Caldwell served their community honorably.  We need to remember them and pay it forward,” Cary Taylor said.

Since 2014, nearly $117,000 in scholarships have been awarded, including those from this year. All scholarship recipients have participated in North Star’s Peer Assistance and Leadership (PAL) program. PAL, a proven national model and evidence-based program, creates a peer-to-peer environment designed to encourage teens by building resiliency and assets through youth leadership, mentoring and community prevention activities.  

“All of the scholarship applicants are servant leaders and have accomplished an impressive array of activities and projects,” said Diane DeLong, senior program manager, North Star Youth Partnership. “Their plans after graduation are exciting and their commitment to achieve their goals inspiring.”

High School scholarship recipients include Bagdad High School – Christian Collins, Nikole Harrison, Jada Bradford and Shayna Bell; Tri-City College Prep – Olivia Sleeth, Alexandria Kieckhefer, Jose Manzo, Samantha Esparza-Baker and Luana Nardo de Rivera.

Christian Collins
Christian participated on the student council, played on the golf (BHS) team, and was in PAL for four years.  He works at a daycare center and volunteers to help homeless veterans and school-aged children at a summer camp.  After graduating from high school, Christian plans to enlist in the Navy to be a Master at Arms.  His best example of leadership is working at the childcare center and the Littles program with his former third-grade teacher, Mrs. Castro, and her students. He feels it is essential that younger children have mentors, especially with the trauma they experienced during the pandemic over the past two years.  "I learned a lot about myself through PAL. I learned that I lead by example. I like to show people how to do things rather than tell them. What being a leader means to me, is that people look up to you, trust and respect you."
Shayna Bell 
Shayna was a Student Council Representative for four years and served as the Treasurer. She participated in softball for three years, one year as the manager, and was the manager for basketball for three years and volleyball for four. Shayna was in PAL for four years, FBLA for six years, and journalism for a year.  Outside of school, Shayna volunteers by pet and babysitting, putting together bags for the homeless, food bank donation and service, and community cleanups.  After graduating from high school, Shayna plans to move to Prescott, AZ, gain work experience and start investing for her future. 

Nikole Harrison 
Nikole participated in volleyball and was also the manager of the BHS basketball and softball teams. She is active in her church and community, helping make food bags for the homeless, leading camps, babysitting, dog walking, and an organizing assistant for food drives. For four years, Nikole was involved in the Family Career Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) and Student Council, and the National Honor Society and Class President for three years. Nikole maintains a positive attitude and enjoys helping and assisting others. After graduating Nikole is planning to attend Yavapai College and obtain an Associate’s Degree and then transfer to Northern Arizona to become a traveling nurse and ultimately become a flight nurse.

Jada Bradford 
Jada was Secretary of the Journalism Club her Freshman year, on Student Council for four years (President- 12th grade), Class executive Council for three years (President- 9th & 11th, Secretary- 10th), National Honors Society for three years, (President- 12th grade), FCCLA for three years (Vice-President- 12th grade), and FBLA for one year. She participated in many events, including a 30-hour famine to raise awareness for 3rd world countries, a Christmas Tree drive for those who lost their homes in the Spur Fire, donated food, and helped organize multiple food drives. Jada plans to attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott to receive a degree in Aeronautical Sciences and become a commercial pilot.

Luana Nardo de Rivera
Luana participated in Honors English, National Art Honors Society, and Girl Talk, a North Star Youth Partnership program, where she was a Girl Talk Leader and Mentor to middle school girls. She was part of the Peer Assistant & Leadership (PAL) for two years. Luana gave food, drinks, and time to homeless shelters and helped clean up churches and out in the community.  Luana plans on attending Yavapai College to receive her Associate of Science, then transfer to ASU with the ultimate goal of obtaining her Master's Degree.

Samantha Esparza-Baker 
Samantha took English, Biology, and Chemistry honor classes and participated in Mock Trials and the National Honors Society. She also played on the varsity volleyball team for four years and the varsity basketball for two and worked part-time at Chick-Fil-A.  She volunteered at her church for their Christmas Angels event, craft shows, and caroling at senior centers. Samantha dedicated many hours to the Prescott Valley Performing Arts building project and helped with youth plays and set designs behind the scenes.  Samantha plans on attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for a degree in Simulation Science, Games, and Animation.

Jose Manzo
Jose Manzo participated in science and math honors, Envirothon, Bible Club, ceramics class, and was part of the chamber orchestra. He helped organize Tri-City's Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk to raise money for suicide prevention. He is active in his church; during the holidays, he volunteers for the church drive-thru, where families in need can pick up food, clothes, and care packages. He also helps at the Sleep in Heavenly Peace outreach by setting up beds, making care packages, and giving them to the homeless in the streets of Phoenix. Jose is pursuing his associate degree and has completed many honors classes and 14 college classes while in high school. He was an active member of Tri- M, National Art Honors Society. He also worked at Walgreens for six months and was in charge of The Photo lab and customer service.  Jose is attending the Urban Training Center, a church ministry. He will spend three months in Panama, and three months in Amsterdam, focusing on urban leadership, personal development, and mission outreach.  In spring 2023, Jose will attend Arizona State University to get his medical studies degree with an emphasis in Pre-med. I will also participate in the medical internships that The ASU Barrett Honors College offers to get a glimpse of the medical world. "I am not afraid of criticism; being part of a leadership team has shown me that criticism is your best friend when it comes to growth."

Alexandria Coriano
Alexandria was an active PAL member for three years at Tri City College Prep.  During high school, she was active in sports including volleyball (captain one year), basketball and serving for three years at sports manager for the boys’ volleyball team.  Alexandria participated in several service and community activities raising awareness of suicide prevention and raising money for the American Cancer Association.  During her time with PAL, she helped to mentor transfer students and first year students.  She strived to help students feel comfortable at school, included, and make high school a fun and better place for underclassmen.   Alexandria will be attending Yavapai College and then on to Arizona State University to pursue a degree in Forensic Psychology. 

Katie Kieckhefer 
Katie participated in the PAL Club beginning in her sophomore year and serving as PAL president her senior year.  She also participated in Envirothon at Tri-City College Prep and volunteered her time with animal and environmental causes.  Katie says being in PAL helped build her confidence and leadership skills.  One memorable experience this year was encouraging another PAL student to take more responsibility on a service project and watch him thrive.  She said it was great to step aside and share the spotlight because now, more than ever, the world needs great leaders and influencers with pure hearts and intentions.  Katie plans to attend Northern Arizona University and major in studio art with an emphasis in painting.  She hopes to become a professional painter and run her own gallery/coffee shop.  

Olivia Sleeth
Olivia has been part of many clubs, including National Art Honors Society, Peer Assistance & Leadership (PAL), Tri-M, Bible Club, Photography (Vice-President), Game Gaggle, ceramics, chamber orchestra, and played on the TCP softball team. She has participated in the Suicide Prevention Walk and Community Fest, volunteered at church in the coffee shop, and ran slides for worship services.
Olivia implemented an annual National Kindness Day event, encouraging students to write positive notes to post on their peers' lockers.  Oliva worked at Cinnabon and is currently working at the YMCA.  In the fall, Olivia will attend Northern Arizona University to study Graphic Design.

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Jean Christofferson, Director of Marketing, Catholic Charities Community Services, 602-650-4847; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

About Catholic Charities Community Services:

Founded in 1933, Catholic Charities provides care for the vulnerable of all faiths in central and northern Arizona through programs in foster care, early education, affordable housing, veteran services, refugee resettlement, and homeless outreach. Learn more by visiting Social connections include and