We are now at the height of summer, and our students are enjoying a much-needed break. But school will soon be back in session. Graduated high school seniors will be headed to the next steps on their journey — and for some, that is post-secondary education. College students will be returning for another year, and each year, St. Leo’s awards students extra financial support for their studies. Recent high school graduates Bowdie Fox, Olivia Stava, and Ryan Sodomka received $1,000 to support their college education and Logan Hamik received $1,000 to continue college studies.
The graduating high school recipients must be involved in the parish throughout their high school years. The college student must be a registered member and be involved in their parish and local community, as well as with their educational institution. The recipients were announced at a Mass this past May.
Olivia Stava will attend Creighton University in Omaha and is on the pre-medical school track. She will also be on the dance team. Olivia graduated this past May from Grand Island Central Catholic, where she was involved in dance, speech, Student Council, Future Business Leaders of America, Big Little Crusaders, National Honor Society, choir, and theater.
Olivia has received all her sacraments at
St. Leo’s and has been semi-active in the choir. She attended the National Catholic Youth Conference with several other students from the parish. She also participated in a Higher Ground retreat with other youth from St. Leo’s. Fittingly, she happened to be serving as a lector during the Mass at which she received the scholarship.
“My time at St. Leo’s has been so transformative for my faith,” Olivia says. “I am forever indebted to this parish.”
She also looks forward to returning to St. Leo’s during her breaks from college.
“I am so thankful for this parish,” she says. “I will represent St. Leo’s for the rest of my life.”
In her free time, Olivia loves reading, baking, dancing, and getting ice cream with her family. She looks forward to attending college and having the opportunity to meet new people, build relationships and grow in her faith.
“I look forward to attending a Jesuit institution with so many opportunities to live out and grow in faith,” she says.
Ryan Sodomka also received a college scholarship as a recent high school graduate. He will be attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to study music education. He plans to be part of the marching band.
St. Leo’s has been a big part of Ryan’s life. He participated in the Make a Difference (MAD) Camp and has helped with Vacation Bible School music for the past few years. He also served with the Music Ministry.
“The courses and activities that we did as part of MAD Camp gave me insight that we are to help others, as this will help us be closer to God,” Ryan says.
As a student at Grand Island Senior High School, Ryan was involved with band, choir, theater, show choir, jazz band, and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America.
Ryan will miss St. Leo’s, the staff, and the opportunities he’s had to grow in faith — it’s become home for him. But he is ready for the next chapter.
“What I look forward to in college is the new people I will get to meet,” Ryan says. “Making new friends, understanding new cultures, and having a group of people I consider family is very important to me.”
In his free time, Ryan enjoys spending time with friends and family and playing cards, board games, and video games. He also likes to spend time outside.