Single mom earns first Rotary Big House Gaines scholarship
Sandra Quinsaat is the recipient of the first Reynolda Rotary Club Clarence “Big House” Gaines Memorial Scholarship.
The scholarship to Winston-Salem State University was established by Reynolda Rotary in 2005 in memory of Gaines, a charter member of Reynolda Rotary and legendary basketball coach at Winston-Salem State University. Since then, club members have raised funds to endow the scholarship through the annual Reynolda Rotary Big House Gaines Golf Tournament.
The scholarship will be awarded each year to help former Cook Elementary School students attend Winston-Salem State University. The amount of the scholarship is up to $2,000 per year, renewable for up to four years. It honors not only Coach Gaines, but also the 10-year partnership between Reynolda Rotary and Cook Elementary School, through which club members volunteer extensively in various school roles. As part of the scholarship, Sandra will be mentored during her college years by club member Valene Franco.
Quinsaat graduated from Atkins High School earlier in the spring with a CNA license, a GPA of 3.1 and a class rank of 23rd out of 74 in her class.
She was elected vice president of her junior class and of the student body in 2011. She was in JROTC, Key Club, a manager of the wrestling team, a Student Ambassador and in the Crosby Scholars Program from grades sixth through 12. Sandra, who played softball, volleyball and was a cheerleader, will attend Winston-Salem State University this fall. She is one of just two freshmen who have made the WSSU varsity cheer squad.
In addition to working part-time at Cook-Out, going to school and raising her one-year-old son, Sandra has been an active volunteer at her school, in Cleveland Avenue Homes (where she lives) and with the program Rachelle’s Challenge.
Sandra says she has strong family support. She plans to live on campus at WSSU, a requirement for all freshmen. Her mother will care for her child. She plans to earn a nursing degree.
Sandra and her family have been the recipients of many of the Reynolda Rotary Club’s community outreach efforts over the years.
“I appreciate the Reynolda Rotary Club for everything they have done for me and my family, by tutoring me while I was at Cook Elementary School, providing gifts for my entire family at Christmas time and showing me what happens when successful people encourage young students to go to college so they can be successful in their own careers,” Sandra said.
Franco, a managing attorney at Legal Aid, has been a mentor to Sandra since last fall; she said she is extremely impressed with Sandra as a student and as a person. Franco believes Sandra has the motivation and determination to do well in school.
Part of the scholarship includes providing a mentor to each recipient throughout his or her four years of college. Not surprisingly, Franco is eager to continue as Sandra’s mentor. But Franco will not be alone, as every member of the Rotary Club will play a role in mentoring and helping Sandra.
“I look forward to the next four years for our club to be a support system for Sandra as well as continue to have many more Gaines Scholars,” said the Reynolda Rotary’s Marilyn Parker, who is also a member of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board. “We are truly blessed to have a club that truly makes a difference in this world.”
The scholarship was started by Gerald Chrisco, who envisioned that recipients would go on to become successful members of the community and Reynolda Rotary members.