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25th Anniversary of the Norma Rose Walter Scholarship Program

25th Anniversary of the Norma Rose Walter Scholarship Program

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Since 1987, the Willa Cather Foundation has awarded 29 scholarships totaling more than $ 140,000 through the Norma Ross Walter Scholarship program. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Foundation's effort to provide scholarship support to female Nebraska high school graduates who continue their higher education as English majors in accredited colleges or universities.

This year's Scholarship award-presentation--held on April 29th at the 56th Annual Willa Cather Spring Conference--had special guests in attendance. Virgil Albertini, Chairman of the Scholarship program had been in contact with past scholarship recipients and several attended the anniversary celebration. "It's thrilling to hear their stories," Albertini stated, and "we enjoyed seeing them back to help us celebrate this milestone year." He added that "among those who returned were the first and third honorees. Cather would be extremely proud of all of them and delighted with their many accomplishments."

At the Norma Ross Walter Scholarship award-presentation, three young women officially joined the family of others who had received this prestigious honor. This year's three finalists, who graduated from their respective high schools in May, gave their original essays on Cather, which is a part of the Scholarship's extensive application process. This event is a time-honored tradition and always appreciated by the Conference attendees. Jamie DeTour of Hastings High School has the distinction of being the twenty-fifth first place scholarship recipient and received $1,000. Emily Burns of Blair High School was awarded the $750 prize for first runner-up. And the $500 scholarship for second runner-up was presented to Laura Sunderman of Hastings High School.

The Scholarship fund was established through a generous bequest from Norma Ross Walter. Walter served in the Navy (Waves) during World War II. After the war, she graduated with a B.A. from the University of California, and she received a master's in literature from Mills College. She subsequently accepted a position as assistant editor of the Grapevine, Mare Island's Naval Shipyard's official newspaper. Ms. Walter became the editor in 1957, a position she held until her retirement in 1973. She was an avid reader of Willa Cather's works and frequently visited Red Cloud and Catherland. Ms. Walter died in California in 1982.