Araceli, my Beloved, crossed the bar entering Heaven May 17, 2021. Knowing that my grief and loss would be great, I set about step-by-step to carry on. One of the early tasks that overwhelmed me was the writing of her obituary. At the end of this document, I listed ways friends and family might memorialize Araceli. One way that would please her was the formation of the Araceli Ganan Almond, MD, Health Field-Related Scholarship through the Upshur County Board of Education, 102 Smithfield Street, Buckhannon, W.Va., 26201.
Immediately offerings of gratitude for her tender loving care to babies and children, as well as veterans in our community, began to fill the coffers of this scholarship. Let me tell you— I loved my wife dearly, but then I realized many others also loved her and esteemed her highly. Once again I thank donors for their outpouring of love.
Now a year later, my steps of grief have taken me down the uncharted trail of living without Araceli yet carrying on in remembrance. With Buckhannon-Upshur High School Graduation May 27, 2022, I gained the rewarding task of giving the very first scholarship in Araceli’s name to a student selected by her teachers. Our first recipient is Ashlee Dawn Huffman.
Doctors love our nurses. We work hand in glove with them, fighting disease and treating all kinds of illness and injury. Setting up the scholarship, I anticipated some nursing students might be beneficiaries. Ashlee plans to pursue nursing, studying at the Fred Eberle Technical Center in their one-year Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) program. She has already studied health-related curriculum, successfully completing two programs: the Therapeutic Services program (2021) and the Allied Health program (2022). Impressively, Ashlee studied at FETC while completing all her academic work at B-U High School, graduating magna cum laude.
Let me tell you that one of my teachers said that I did pretty well considering the time and effort I put in on my studies. For you see, I had shifting priorities in high school. Contrast that to the gracious and outstanding comments given to Ashlee:
“Ashlee Huffman is a senior at Buckhannon-Upshur High School and is enrolled in Allied Health at Fred Eberle Technical Center. Ashlee has a desire to learn as much about health care as she possibly can. Ashlee is a kind, compassionate, genuine young lady. Ashlee works at Kroger’s and always has a smile on her face when I am in there. Her preceptors said she was delightful and they were honored to have her at their facility.”
With great confidence, Ronce, my son, and I stood on stage with Ashlee Dawn Huffman Thursday evening, May 26, at the Seniors Awards Ceremony to announce that she is the very first awardee for the Araceli Ganan Almond, MD, Health Field-Related Scholarship! Afterwards we met her mother, congratulating her on raising a fine daughter who has “the right stuff” to be a nurse—Strong, Independent, Loyal, Selfless, Motivated, Reliable, Hardworking, Loving, Compassionate, and Determined. Lesson learned in my 12 years of service as an elected member of the Upshur County Board of Education is that Ashlee Dawn Huffman, a student of high quality, represents the fine caliber of many students in our central Appalachian community.
The apple is the symbol of teaching. Our teachers are the key to unlocking the creative urges that inspire our children and grandchildren on to success, living abundantly while serving. Thank you to our teachers and professional service staff. I just printed another book which elaborates LESSONS LEARNED EMBRACING LIFE. On the cover is a painting of an apple by award-winning artist Violet Coonts, my high school journalism teacher. The red apple portrayed means the legacy continues.