Trucking teaches strong work ethic, scholarship winners say

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line staff writer | 7/11/2016

Scott Jasek says his father’s career as a truck driver is what sparked his own passion for mechanics.

Jasek, the son of OOIDA Senior Member Paul Jasek of Flatonia, Texas, is the top winner of the 2016 Mary Johnston Scholarship Fund. He is majoring in manufacturing and mechanical engineering technology at Texas A&M University.

The younger Jasek said he has many fond memories of observing and helping his father perform routine maintenance on the truck.

“Out of the many intentional life lessons my dad has taught me, I believe that one of the strongest impacts he has made is purely unintentional,” Jasek wrote in his essay to the scholarship committee. “After years of watching and helping my dad work on his own rig, he has sparked an interest in me for all things of mechanical nature, including cars and trucks. The nature of his career and the admiration he has for it has influenced my future by inspiring me to pursue an engaging and hands-on career which I have a passion for.”

The OOIDA Mary Johnston Scholarship Program has been assisting the children, grandchildren and legal dependents of OOIDA members in their efforts to gain a higher education since 1998. Annually, OOIDA awards one $2,000 scholarship and four $1,000 scholarships. The scholarships can be renewed for a total of four years, and the winners are selected by OOIDA’s Scholarship Advisory Committee.

Jasek’s high school activities included the National Honor Society, Future Farmers of America, and the Flatonia mathematics team.

“My dad’s unwavering determination and strong work ethic have taught me the value of hard work and dedication,” Jasek wrote.

Another winner, Grace Lee, daughter of OOIDA Member David Lee of Mount Pleasant, N.C., said her father is one of the greatest influences in her life.

“My dad became an independent truck driver within a few years of graduation from high school, and he has built a very successful business,” Lee wrote. “My father also shows his skills through me. I have worked hard on maintaining my great grades throughout high school. I have learned the ropes of my father’s business paperwork, and I am very organized and prepared in all I do.”

Lee plans to attend either Lenoir-Rhyne University or East Carolina University and study occupational therapy.

Cameron Wright, the grandson of OOIDA Life Member Thomas L. Chaltraw from Boise, Idaho, wrote of his memories of having a grandpa who was a trucker.

“My grandfather has showed me through his actions to work hard, love and appreciate your country and give selflessly of yourself,” Wright wrote. “My papa supported his family by driving a truck after he got out of the Navy. He worked hard, making enough money to pay the bills, and he sacrificed time away from his family doing it.”

Wright graduated from Centennial High School in 2014 and is enrolled at Boise State University where he is majoring in computer science engineering.

Albert Koenig, the son of OOIDA Member Shawn L. Koenig of Belgrade, Mont., wrote about the role trucking played in his life.

“Even though trucking is a career that can be extremely demanding, I feel fortunate to have grown up around it,” Koenig wrote. “The experience has had an undeniably positive impact on building my character.”

Koenig has been accepted to Montana State University and plans to major in agriculture business.

Austin VanDerslice, grandson of Life Member Janice VanDerslice of Seward, Neb., said he was surrounded by trucking as a youth.

“With maternal and paternal grandparents, my father, uncle and brother in the trucking business, trucking was engrained in my daily life and is part of my core,” VanDerslice wrote. “From the time I could walk, I was in the shop and knew as a young child that my interest in the trucking business was more than a hobby and that I wanted to be a part of the family legacy.”

VanDerslice graduated from Seward High School in 2015 and is enrolled at WyoTech for diesel technology.

This year’s runner-up is Darian Eccles, who is the granddaughter of OOIDA Life Member Tom Niccum from Wabash, Ind. Eccles is majoring in elementary education at Ball State University.

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