By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
Vandegrift 2018 graduate William Bryan turned 19 on New Year’s, and it was the special day of his arrival in 2000 that is now paying off. His Jan. 1 birth date has given him $10,000 toward college expenses, which he is using at Texas A&M University.
Born at 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2000, William was rewarded $10,000 toward college as the first child born in 2000 at The Medical Center at Bowling Green.
“The scholarship has been a huge help as it will pay for most of his first year of tuition,” said Keri Bryan, William’s mom.
He graduated among the top 11 percent of his class of 560 students at Vandegrift and this gift is helping him realize his goal of becoming an electrical engineer.
“Growing up, I always heard about it (the scholarship), but I wasn’t able to grasp how much $10,000 was until I started working part time and getting to college age,” William said. “It’s really awesome to know that there are people who are going to support me toward my goal. This will get me off to a good start.”
“The amount was so generous and unexpected. William has been thankful especially because he has worked the last three summers, as a lifeguard in Steiner and at Coffee Bean — so he now truly understands how hard it is to earn $10,000,” Keri said.
Keri, whose husband James Bryan works as an engineer, told the Bowling Green Daily that the scholarship is welcome in an age of rising higher education costs.
The idea for the scholarship came from the late John Desmarais. The former CEO of Bowling Green’s Commonwealth Health Corp. for 35 years valued education, according to the Bowling Green Daily News.
The hospital always recognized the first baby born in the new year with some type of gift, but Y2K was a special year and they wanted to do more at the turn of the century.
“As we were approaching the year 2000, we wanted to do something out of the ordinary,” said Doris Thomas, Med Center Health’s vice president of development and community outreach.
“Mr. Desmarais decided to establish a scholarship. A letter went to the family to let them know there would be a $10,000 scholarship set up for him,” Thomas told the Bowling Green Daily.
Keri, an accountant then at BKD CPAs & Advisors in Bowling Green, never forgot that letter or that $10,000 promise.
“They presented us the scholarship letter pretty quickly after he was born,” Keri told the Bowling Green Daily. “It’s something we’ve talked about his whole life. They (the Medical Center staff) have been lovely about honoring it.”
William was less than 3 when the Bryans moved back to their native Texas.
“Texas was always home for us,” she told the Bowling Green Daily. “We had an opportunity we couldn’t pass up to get back closer to my mom. But I still had the (scholarship) paperwork. I reached out to them (early last) year, and they honored the commitment. It’s amazing.”