Four students from Brownwood and Early high schools who received their diplomas last weekend were awarded $1,000 Rotary scholarships Wednesday during a luncheon at the Brownwood Country Club.

The students and their parents were recognized, and heard Dr. Evelyn Romig, distinguished professor of literature at Howard Payne University, encourage them to explore areas in college that are beyond the “checklists” they are required to complete.

Students receiving scholarships are Hannah Angeles, daughter of Johanna Angeles and Oliver Angeles, Brownwood High School; Kayla McFarden, daughter of Kimberly and Kyle Ellis, Brownwood High School; Cassandra Durden, daughter of Kenneth and Melissa Durden, Early High School; and Courtnie Smith, daughter of Julie Smith, Early High School.

Each awardee spoke briefly about future plans.

Hannah and Cassandra will both study biomedical science at Texas A&M with plans to enter veterinary medicine; Kayla will attend Texas Tech to study nursing with a minor in Spanish; and Courtnie will attend Tarleton State to major in music education.

Presentations were made by Dr. Jack Marx, president of the Brownwood Rotary Club; and Mariann Tackett, president of Friends of Rotary. The clubs conduct fundraisers throughout the year to generate funds for the annual scholarships.

In introductory remarks, Marx said the scholarships benefit the club members as much as the students because the process gives members the opportunity to fully appreciate the scope of the accomplishments of students at the high schools.

The faculty and administration of the schools selects Students of the Month during the academic year who are guests at the club. Those students, as well as others who attend a Rotary summer camp, are eligible to apply for the award. A committee from the clubs evaluated the applications and selected recipients.

Romig said the students have been completing checklists for 13 years as they worked toward school diplomas, and noted that they all have plans to further their educations at universities. But she urged them to make the checklists they will be given a secondary priority in coming years, so they can explore areas of interest that may not seem directly related to the fields they have chosen.

“They’re going to give you checklists,” Romig said. “Go beyond the checklists.”

Students are wired throughout school to work checklists in order to get good grades, but their college years are the best times to consider other things as well.

“Say to yourself, what I want to do is this, fill in the blank, and do it. Single out something that interests you. Maybe that means instead of studying more for a test, you have coffee with friends and discuss what our world needs from people your age.”

She said her career as an English literature professor started as a sophomore when a course in that subject opened her eyes to the joys of reading.

“A literature class made me think I want to do more of this,” she said.

She had previously been encouraged by her parents to pursue a degree in medicine. The financial rewards of the career path she chose may not have been as lucrative as that, but Romig said she still has enough money to buy “a comfortable chair” where she reads, and to sustain her “expensive habit” of buying books. It also gave her time to spend with her children.

Marx had previously referenced the poem “The Road Not Taken,” and Romig returned to the Robert Frost masterwork to talk about the two roads she faced as a sophomore. She pointed out that the poem doesn’t mention any specific emotion regarding the roads, only that it states only one of them could be chosen and that taking the road less traveled “made all the difference.”