Canon-McMillan student named winner of Zonta Amelia Earhart Award

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When 16-year-old Allison Jo "Allie" Vogrig found out she'd been nominated by a guidance counselor for the 24th annual Amelia Earhart Award from the Zonta Club of Washington County, she was surprised.

When she heard her name announced as the winner of the 2013 Vivian Milhollan Exemplary Service Award, she couldn't believe her ears.

"I was actually very shocked, because everyone had so much talent," Allie said of the 14 other girls nominated from each of the county's 15 school districts.

The local Zonta Club has sponsored the awards to recognize girls in their junior year of high school for volunteer work and leadership in community service.

She received her award at the club's annual banquet, held last week at the DoubleTree Hotel in North Strabane.

The daughter of Ken and Cheryl Vogrig of Canonsburg, Allie has served the community in a variety of ways. She has volunteered in the hospitality shop at Canonsburg General Hospital and has helped collect clothing for the Washington Women's Shelter.

She also is active in the Slovenian National Benefit Society Lodge 138.

"I help with the fundraising, kid's parties and fraternal events," she said.

Allie also has a part-time job as a clerk at Sarris Candies and she works in the summers and during school breaks as an intern at Rice Energy, one of the drilling companies in the Marcellus Shale gas industry.

It's been her work there that Allie has most enjoyed.

"I'm hoping to go to Virginia Tech for mining and minerals engineering," she said. "Hopefully, I will work in the Marcellus Shale field or the mining field. I just think it's interesting. I love science."

A member of the Canon-McMillan High School girls varsity bowling team and the band's majorette squad, Allie was nominated for the honor by guidance counselor Karen Rubican.

Picking a winner among such a talented pool of applicants wasn't easy, said Samantha Veltri, vice president of the Zonta group and the co-chairwoman of the Amelia Earhart Award.

"It's a very difficult process," she said. "The girls all excel in different ways."

Club member Monica Merrell said applications were scored based on the type of service completed and the number of hours invested, along with intangibles, such as unusual service projects.

"Every year we ask schools to identify a candidate to represent their school," she said. "Everybody is recognized with a $100 check and a book about Amelia Earhart."

The award is named for Ms. Earhart, who was a member of Zonta and, members believe, a fitting role model for young women aspiring to reach their potential and achieve positions of leadership in whatever field they choose.

Allie stood out as a candidate for the service award, Ms. Merrell said.

"She did a variety of things in different areas," she said. "It was her diversity that pushed her over the top."

Allie was recognized with a $1,000 scholarship and an award certificate.

Ms. Veltri was especially impressed by Allie's work with the women's shelter.

"Among her accomplishments, that was something very much in line with Zonta's goal," she said.

The Washington County Zonta club was established in 1985 and represents Zonta International, a global, nonpolitical organization of female executives who are leaders in their communities and their countries. The organization is recognized by the United Nations and includes 35,000 members in more than 1,249 clubs in 67 countries and is founded on the belief that by advancing the status of women, society as a whole is improved. The word Zonta is derived from a Sioux word meaning "honest and trustworthy."

Members of the local group have strived to promote women's issues locally and globally, including clothing drives for battered women and raising funds for birthing kits for women in Third World nations.

Girls nominated for the Amelia Earhart Award represent the future, Ms. Veltri said.

"They are going to turn into amazing women," she said.

The other 2013 Amelia Earhart honorees include: Amber Clingenpeel of Avella Area; Haley Durila of Bentworth; Elizabeth Paul from Bethlehem-Center; Kaitlin McCracken, Bishop Canevin; Maggie Stiffler, Burgettstown Area; Kimberly Sears, California Area; Nicole Miller, Charleroi; Jennifer Lucas, Chartiers-Houston; Lauren Ragland, Fort Cherry; Natalie Cerciello, McGuffey; Jessica McElroy, Peters Township; Erica Santina, Ringgold; Alexa Kostyak, Trinity Area; and Savannah Rae Ammons, Washington.

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Janice Crompton: or 412-851-1867.


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