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Law firm awards scholarships to raise drunken driving awareness

The $2,500 scholarships awarded to 15 seniors this week by the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo won’t just help pay for college. They will also help elevate the issue of drinking and driving.

Over the past 11 years, the North Carolina personal injury firm has awarded $230,000 to more than 100 graduating seniors in the Carolinas.

The program grew out of the day-to-day work experiences of DeMayo, who wanted to raise awareness of the issue.

“I had nothing good to say to a parent that had the unnecessary loss of their child,” he said.

DeMayo said this year his office received nearly 500 applications from around the region, possibly the largest pool in the scholarship’s history. Students submitted an essay, PowerPoint presentation, video or other form of media on the topic of drinking and driving.

This year’s winners came from 23 counties around the region and were selected based on their submission, grades, extracurricular activities and special circumstances, such as personal experience with someone drinking and driving.

Myers Park senior Sara Lee, 17, was awarded one of the scholarships and will head to Yale in the fall. She’s been awarded a number of substantial scholarships – including $10,000 from Coca-Cola – and said she applied for the DeMayo scholarship more for the message than the money.

“It wasn’t just about recognizing good students, it seemed more like a public awareness effort to stop kids my age, in my peer group, from making a decision that could potentially change their lives,” she said.

Lee submitted a PowerPoint presentation loaded with statistics, mainly aimed at students her own age. “I was hoping to make it educational but appealing to kids in my age group,” Lee said.

Myers Park counselor and scholarship chair Vicki Brunnick said not many private businesses offer scholarships like this.

“This gives students – who don’t have a parent who works at a bank, or close ties with a church or synagogue – an opportunity to connect with someone in the community,” Brunnick said.

Trenda: 704-358-5089 Twitter: @htrenda
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