The Kiwanis Children’s Fund honors 7 scholars who developed skills through Key Club and CKI.
By Erin Chandler
The outstanding scholars who will receive this year’s Kiwanis Children’s Fund Scholarships stood out among 459 applicants not only for what they have already accomplished, but for their commitment to creating a more just and inclusive future. Through their membership in Key Club and Circle K International, these seven students have grown as leaders and are ready to further pursue their passions to create a more equitable world in the fields of science, healthcare, business, environmental stewardship and education. The Kiwanis Children’s Fund is honored to help them continue their education in the upcoming academic year.
Maya Narayan, Linda Canaday Memorial Scholarship
Maya Narayan is a recent graduate of Goshen High School in Indiana, U.S., where she served successively as her Key Club’s secretary, vice president and president. She also served the Indiana District of Key Club as a lieutenant governor and as secretary-treasurer. Narayan was an officer in her school’s Multicultural Youth Alliance, three-year student council class president, an active leader in her local 4-H club and a record-setting captain of the Goshen High School girls’ golf team. Narayan has a passion for singing and has participated in multiple choirs as well as in national vocal programs. She won lead roles in school and professional musicals — most recently that of Wednesday Addams in “The Addams Family.” Initially hesitant about joining Key Club, Narayan was drawn in by how it helped her grow as a leader. “That is what I appreciate most about the Key Club community,” she says. “We are a group of tomorrow’s leaders whose horizons keep broadening.” She will continue to broaden her horizons next year as a freshman at Western Michigan University.
Swarada Kulkarni, Kiwanis Children’s Fund Scholarship
Swarada Kulkarni is a recent graduate of West Ranch High School in California, U.S. She designed the website for her school’s Key Club before going on to serve as its vice president, then as her division’s project coordinator and finally on the California-Nevada-Hawaii District’s technology team. According to her former division lieutenant governor, Kulkarni is “a true brainstormer, team worker and, most importantly, a kind-hearted person.” In addition to Key Club, Kulkarni has served as an ambassador for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and taken on leadership roles in Academic Decathlon, Speech and Debate Club, the California Scholarship Federation and the National Art Honors Society. She is an award-winning Hindustani classical singer, world champion dragon boat paddler and volunteer in urgent care, emergency room and neonatal intensive care settings. Kulkarni is founder and CEO of the nonprofit Bridge to Hope Foundation, which works to minimize the effects of income inequality around the world. Next year, she plans to attend Vanderbilt University with the goal of becoming a neurosurgeon, providing affordable healthcare in underserved regions around the world.
Lilian Thai, Kiwanis Children’s Fund Scholarship
Lilian Thai is the current president of Key Club International. A recent graduate of Garland High School in Texas, U.S., Thai was a member of Garland High School Key Club for four years. She served as a Key Club division governor before becoming governor of the Texas-Oklahoma District. In her role as Key Club International president, Thai launched a scholarship to increase access to the Key Club International convention, created resources for clubs in the newly chartered Philippine Luzon District, mentored fellow Key Club leaders and sought to promote diversity, equity and inclusion. “My priority has always been to serve the members of our organization with passion and love,” she says. In addition to Key Club, Thai is a member of UNICEF, served as treasurer in the National Honor Society and spent two years as captain of her varsity tennis team. She will take the skills she has acquired in her leadership roles to Southern Methodist University, where she will major in business administration.
Brittani Meis, Circle K International Past Presidents Scholarship
Brittani Meis is a student at Colorado State University, U.S., where she is pursuing a degree in soil and crop science. She has served her school’s Circle K International Club, first as treasurer, then as president. As a club leader, Meis focused on creating more volunteer opportunities and partnerships that forged connections between CKI and the community. She even put her background in agriculture to use by partnering with The Growing Project, a community garden organization. Meis hopes to take the leadership and networking skills she has developed through CKI with her to graduate school and then around the world as she uses sustainable agriculture to help those suffering from malnutrition and poverty. Outside of CKI, Meis has served as vice president of the Striders running club, president of her school’s agronomy club and an agroecology lab assistant.
Aleisa Tobin, John E. Mayfield Circle K International Scholarship
Aleisa Tobin is a student at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, U.S., where she is pursuing a degree in adolescent to young adult life science education. Under her leadership as vice president and president, her school’s Circle K International club increased its membership, service hours and number of projects, and it was able to secure university funding to send 10 members to the Ohio District convention for the first time. Her club’s advisor states that Tobin’s “charisma allows her to engage with her fellow students and motivate them to want to do more and make a bigger impact.” In preparation for her teaching career, Tobin is a Science and Math Education in ACTION Scholar and a board member for her university’s Science Education Council. She hopes to use the skills she has built in CKI to become a compassionate and inclusive teacher who inspires her students to learn and lead.
Grace Nguyen, Kiwanis Children’s Fund Scholarship
Grace Nguyen is pursuing a degree in cell and molecular biology at Seattle University in Washington, U.S. She is the past secretary and current president of her school’s Circle K International club, and she takes pride in incorporating her passion for activism and social justice into her leadership. Her club’s advisor credits Nguyen with leading the club “to new and record heights” in membership and community involvement, for which the club received an Excellence in Service Award. In addition to Circle K International, Nguyen works part-time as a student peer research consultant with the Seattle University Lemieux Library and McGoldrick Learning Commons and as a student programming assistant with the Seattle University Office of Multicultural Affairs. She has held leadership roles in the Seattle University Japanese Student Association; Asian, Pacific Islander, Desi American Student Association; Vietnamese Student Association; and biology club.
Matthew Yuro, Kiwanis Children’s Fund Scholarship
Matthew Yuro is a student at The College of New Jersey, U.S., where he is pursuing degrees in special education, elementary education and history. He has served on and chaired multiple committees for Circle K International at the club, district and international levels, and he is the current lieutenant governor of his division. At the 2022 Circle K International Convention, Yuro was honored as New Member of the Year and Outstanding International Committee Member. In his quest to become an educator, Yuro holds leadership roles in the New Jersey Education Association Preservice, Student New Jersey Education Association, Teachers of Young Children Association, history club and multiple peer mentoring organizations. He is a tutor at his college’s tutoring center, the Monroe Township School District and a private tutoring agency. “Circle K International is more than just a club for me,” Yuro says. “It’s a place for me to be my best self with a community of like-minded people who truly care for me and want to help others in the local community.”
Visit the Kiwanis Children’s Fund Scholarship Opportunities page for information about scholarships distributed by the Children’s Fund, including who to contact with questions and award notification dates.