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Turning Tragedy into Triumph: Local Parents Fund Permanent Scholarship in Memory of Daughter

Laurel Johnston (center), is the first-ever recipient of the Kelsey Vogel “Shining Star” Memorial Endowment, which was created by Rick and Linda Vogel, Kelsey’s parents, following their daughter’s tragic death in 2007. The scholarship is awarded annually to a theatre arts major at Lone Star College-Montgomery.When Rick Vogel and Linda Vogel lost their daughter, Kelsey, in a tragic accident in late 2007, they were determined that her memory would live on.  It didn’t take them long to figure out how to make that happen, through the generous and loving gifts from family and friends.

“Kelsey was such a vibrant, fun, outgoing person who cared about other people,” said Linda Vogel, a resident of Conroe who is also a faculty member in the nursing department at Lone Star College-Montgomery. “She loved to entertain people and make them smile. She was truly a shining star.”

Kelsey, who attended school in Willis and was a founding member of the “Creighton Kidz” theatre group, had also performed on the LSC-Montgomery stage several times during her childhood. The Vogels felt that a scholarship fund dedicated to an LSC-Montgomery theatre student would be the perfect way to keep Kelsey’s spirit alive.

Less than a year after raising the amount required to fund a permanent (endowed) scholarship through the Lone Star College Foundation, the Vogels were able to connect with the first recipient of the Kelsey Vogel “Shining Star” Memorial Endowment. That recipient, LSC-Montgomery theatre student, Laurel Johnston, was overwhelmed by the Vogel’s’ generosity.

“It is such an honor to receive this scholarship,” said Johnston, who plans to continue studying theatre, possibly at Sam Houston State University, once she completes her education at LSC-Montgomery. “Meeting the Vogels, hearing their story and learning more about Kelsey, it was definitely a special, unforgettable moment.”

Likewise for the Vogels, who feel that Johnston was a “perfect fit” to be the first recipient of the scholarship.

“Just like Kelsey, Laurel is an amazing young talent. She is a shining star,” said Linda Vogel. “I’m glad that Kelsey’s legacy is helping someone like Laurel attend college and achieve her dreams. That’s what this is all about.”

According to Darcy Mingoia, executive director of the Lone Star College Foundation, establishing an endowed scholarship in memory of a loved one, is a great way to help others while, at the same time, creating a legacy that last forever.

“All it takes is $15,000 to fund a scholarship in perpetuity,” said Mingoia. “Essentially, the interest earned from the base fund is applied to a semesterly scholarship, which comes very close to covering the tuition for a full load of classes.”

“Over the past several years, we’ve seen a large increase in the number of endowed scholarships,” added Mingoia. “Some of them are memorials, but there are also many businesses and community organizations that have recognized the value of funding scholarships that promote education and improve lives.”

For more information about the Lone Star College Foundation or how to start a scholarship fund, please contact Mingoia at (832) 813-6636, or visit www.LoneStar.edu/foundation.
LSC-Montgomery is located at 3200 College Park Drive, one-half mile west of Interstate 45, between Conroe and The Woodlands. For more information about the college, call (936) 273-7000, or visit www.LoneStar.edu/montgomery.
With more than 62,000 students in credit classes in spring 2010, Lone Star College System is the second largest and the fastest-growing community college system in Texas and the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area. LSCS consists of five colleges including LSC-CyFair, LSC-Kingwood, LSC-Montgomery, LSC-North Harris, and LSC-Tomball, six centers, LSC-University Park, LSC-University Center at Montgomery, LSC-University Center at University Park, Lone Star Corporate College, and LSC-Online. To learn more visit LoneStar.edu.