Try 1 month for 99¢
Student's quest brings major honors
Noelle McCarthy, a Santiam Christian High School senior, won a Discus Award for all-around excellence. (Scobel Wiggins/Gazette-Times)

Like most high school seniors planning to go college, Noelle McCarthy spends a lot of time searching for ways to make it more affordable. Coincidentally, her search for money might have given her an advantage when applying for scholarships - and she's landed a big one - recently earning a Discus Award, which recognizes high school students grades 9 through 12 nationwide for all-around excellence.

McCarthy is one of 38 students from Oregon to earn the award.

"It's pretty funny actually," said McCarthy, who attends Santiam Christian High School. "I was looking for scholarships, and I found the Discus Awards Web site and nominated myself."

Applying for a Discus Award is a free and easy process. It's online-based and students can nominate themselves, if they aren't nominated by someone else.

From a list of 10 areas including academics and athletics, participants are asked to write in 200 words or fewer about the three areas that fit them best. The entries are judged by educators from all over the country.

McCarthy chose to write about her community service, work and the other achievements areas when she applied for the Discus Award. She's an involved and accomplished student at school, and her memberships include the choir and drama programs.

Her community service resume is impressive and far-ranging:

Close to home, she spends three weekends a month working with Love INC of Benton County, serving the homeless. She's done yard work to spruce up local firestations, sent gifts through Operation Christmas Child.

She's even taken her volunteerism halfway around the globe, teaching English and volunteering at orphanages in China.

It's all part of her plan.

"Helping others is something I have always wanted, to do," McCarthy said. "Helping the homeless is especially gratifying."

McCarthy is now eligible to win scholarships from Discus Awards. Each month this school year, the program will award $2,000 to one Discus Award winner. She also has a profile on its Web site that she can use to market herself on college applications.

Not surprisingly, McCarthy wants to study linguistics and intercultural studies in college. She has narrowed her choices of schools to Trinity Western University in British Columbia or Portland State University.

"Eventually, I'd like to earn my TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages certification.)," McCarthy said. "So I can continue to travel and help people."

To learn more information about Discus Awards, visit