CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - A former Ste. Genevieve, Missouri student is giving back to students at Ste. Genevieve High School with a special scholarship that will enable them to learn more about their careers and help with expenses with a lifetime trip.
This scholarship will lead to one student getting a trip to anywhere in the world they want to go to.
The scholarship is with a special project only to juniors in high school called the Patched Overalls Experience.
Patched Overalls Founder Tyson Schaffner graduated from Ste. Genevieve High School in 1997. He returned five years ago to the school and proposed a unique project for the students that would enable them to think about their future and how to act on it.
This project was introduced this year to the students earlier in October. Juniors had the choice to participate in the project and met with Schaffner in the gymnasium to go over the details.
"The idea of giving back, this was home," Schaffner stated. "No matter where I live or where I go, this was always home. I remember sitting in these exact same classrooms and probably thinking and feeling the same way these kids feel. This just felt like a great place to start. I just want to let the kids know that you can't really predict where you're going to end up purely by looking at where you start."
Each student will make a proposal outlining the logistics and personal value of their choice of a dream learning experience. One student each year will be awarded up to $2,500 to use towards transportation, lodging, program costs, and more. The winner of the scholarship is obligated to keep a journal of their experience and find a way to share what they learned with their school/community when they return home.
"They have to create a proposal, no longer than 15 minutes where they describe the logistics and the personal value of their dream learning experience," Schaffner explained. "It could be anything. They just have to explain the educational merit of what that means to them and how it can impact their life."
Over 90 percent of the $2,500 comes straight out of Schaffner’s pocket. The rest of the money comes from donations.
"Somebody once told me that you have to find out what you love to do, become the best at it and use it to help people," Schaffner said. "That really stuck with me. So the things that I've learned from my travels are very important and I just want to pass that on as best as I can."
The students will need to turn in their applications by the end of the week. At that point, they have several weeks to research what it is they are interested in, where they would go and how they would budget their experience.
"We select one student each year," Schaffner explained. "But the students that aren't chosen, they have created a very real plan for something they really want to accomplish. We will help as much as we can with those students also following through with their plan. So every single student walks away with something real."
Ste. Genevieve High School Senior Emma Flieg won the scholarship last year and has already went on her dream trip.
Flieg took a trip to South Africa to volunteer at a wildlife sanctuary.
"It was amazing! There is nothing about it I would change. I loved every second of it," Flieg said. "I worked every day for three weeks. We did the animal feedings early at 6:30. After breakfast we worked different jobs like cleaning and closures."
Flieg said this trip helped reassure her passion for wanting to become a veterinarian and feels it will help the other students figure out their own path in life.
"It helps them learn exactly what they would like to do," Flieg said. "It helps them get out of their comfort zone and helps them explore more."
“It’s about stepping outside of your comfort zone and the things that you can learn by doing that,” Schaffner said. “Our philosophy is if you are only doing the same things with the same people in the same place, you really never know what you are capable of.”
That is exactly what students are doing right now as they research what they want to do and where they want to go.
Ste. Genevieve High School Juniors Bryce Trollinger and Nolan Klump are currently preparing their trip. Both feel this is an opportunity to grow in their paths that they desire.
“This definitely helps me to go for my dreams more and helps me with finding an occupation after college,” Trollinger said.
Trollinger is researching and pursing learning the different cultures in Europe as he wants to go into performing arts.
"I would like to improve myself as a musician seeing how people do it around the world and not just here in this area," Trollinger said.
Klump is currently researching youth leadership programs with the FBI. He first wants to serve in the military. Afterwards, he will pursue a career in the FBI and hopes to advance into a leadership status to help and educate others as well.
"The program I am looking at is located in Washington D.C.," Klump said. "It is actually with the FBI and it's a five day long program. I just want to help other people and protect the country."
Klump states whether he gets the scholarship or not, this project is helping him prepare for the life after school right now.
"It will give me an insight of what the real world is like and what having a job is like," Klump said.
When Schaffner talks to the students he wears overalls with patches sown onto them of the various places he has been around the world.
"This whole thing turned into like I am a mascot," Schaffner said. "The overalls represent the hard work behind the patches which is the reward for that hard work."
Schaffner wants to make sure he takes his experiences around the world and pass them onto the students to hopefully one day see that they can pass them along to the next generation.
“There’s a quote I saw, ‘the biggest investment and the most far reaching investment we can ever make is not something we make with money. It’s an investment in our students. It’s an investment in our future,’” Schaffner said.