Shaler Area grad awarded 2019 Millvalean Scholarship

Friday, August 16, 2019 | 12:01 AM


Kelsey Cordera is preparing to start her freshman year at Edinboro University with a $3,200 scholarship from three women who also grew up in Millvale.

Cordera, 18, is the 2019 Millvalean Scholarship recipient. The scholarship’s name is derived from that of the Millvale High School yearbook. Millvale High School existed prior to the 1971 Pennsylvania Department of Education-sanctioned merger of the Etna, Millvale, Shaler and Reserve school districts to form Shaler Area School District.

Scholarship committee members Alice Mae Riffner, Audrey Stucky and Karen Ulrich were Millvalean yearbook editors.

Scholarship recipients are Millvale residents who give back to their community through volunteer opportunities within the borough. They are Shaler Area High School seniors with minimum GPAs of 2.5. Recipients have committed to attending two- or four-year colleges or universities or technical or trade schools in Pennsylvania.

Riffner said that Cordera, who plans to study early childhood and special education in college, exceeded their expectations.

“It turns out that Kelsey’s mom also went to Edinboro, and she (Kelsey) told us something that touched my heart. She (Kelsey) said, ‘My mom is my best friend and my mentor.’ I loved hearing that,” Riffner, now of Etna, said.

Cordera taught Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) classes alongside her mother at Millvale’s Holy Spirit Parish.

“I always knew that I wanted to go into teaching because my mom was a preschool teacher, so it was me following in her footsteps,” she said of educating third-graders. “That really helped confirm that that’s what I wanted to do.”

Cordera will play softball for Edinboro. In addition to playing for Shaler Area, she spent four years coaching 10-year-olds through the Millvale Softball Association.

“It was a really good experience. I loved watching the next generation of softball players grow.”

Riffner devised the scholarship idea following the district’s annual senior awards dinner.

“When a young high school student receives a scholarship, no matter whether it’s $100, $1,000, a couple thousand dollars, they feel important. They feel that they’re worthy, and that’s what we wanted to project, that they feel that they mattered. We wanted them to go forward and have confidence in themselves and fulfill their dreams.”

The scholarship started as a $1,000 award nine years ago. Cordera was pleasantly surprised to discover she would receive more than that amount.

Riffner said that the funds come from the committee members’ pockets.

Cordera’s Shaler Area English teacher told her about the scholarship opportunity after Cordera wrote a mock scholarship essay for a class assignment.

Cordera also received the $500 Shaler Area Bill & Sue Suit Athletic Hall of Fame Scholarship.

“It’s really cool. My mom really taught me at a young age that hard work really does pay off, so it really shows that here,” Cordera said of her accomplishments.

Interested Shaler Area seniors may contact their guidance counselors to obtain 2020 scholarship applications.