May 10, 2024

Mary Regula Memorial Scholarship Winners Announced

Scholarship Winners v6

In late April, the National First Ladies Library & Museum announced two winners of the Mary Regula Memorial Scholarship, which is awarded annually to deserving Stark County high school juniors or seniors who have written a compelling essay telling the story of significant historical events in American history through the eyes of the First Ladies.

The scholarship program was initially begun when the National First Ladies Library was founded in the late 1990s. It was revived in 2024 as the Mary Regula Memorial Scholarship to honor Mrs. Regula’s role as the founder of the National First Ladies Library.

The winners were announced at the National First Ladies Library & Museum’s annual VIP Champagne Reception to kick of the 2024-25 featured exhibit, “Leaders in Literacy: First Ladies as Teachers, Educators, and Librarians,” which was held at the museum on Saturday, April 27, 2024.

PHOTO: (Left): First place winner Alexandra Sondike (center) with National First Ladies Library Director of Education Stephanie Bohnak (left) and President & CEO Patty Dowd Schmitz (right). (Right): Second place winner Caitlyn Geisheimer (center).

The first place winner of the Mary Regula Memorial Scholarship was Alexandra Sondike, a Jackson High School senior. She received a $1,000 scholarship for her essay titled “Unfair Legacy,” about the life of First Lady Pat Nixon. In her essay, she wrote in Mrs. Nixon’s voice: “…The media presented me as dull, not as bold as Jackie Kennedy. I did so much and then suddenly in the early ’70s [my husband] made a stupid decision, and my life and work fell apart, I had never seen more cameras on me in my life, even at my lowest. And that was Watergate, the ultimate legacy.”

The second-place scholarship winner was Caitlyn Geisheimer, also a Jackson High School senior. She received an $800 scholarship for her essay titled “The War of 1812: Through the Eyes of Dolley Madison.” In her essay, she wrote in the First Lady’s voice: “The British are the most pesky, stubborn, thorns that I’ve ever had the displeasure of knowing. We give them our grievances, they laugh, we tell them we are leaving their country, they fight for us to stay, we win the war, tens of thousands die, they refuse to leave and it brings us back to what seems to be a never-ending rotation.”

Both students were in attendance at the VIP reception to receive their awards, which were presented by National First Ladies Library & Museum’s Director of Education and Outreach, Stephanie Bohnak, who said, “Alexandra and Caitlyn exemplify the spirit of our founder, Mary Regula, who dedicated her life to bringing forth the stories of our American First Ladies. These two young women are leaders in the making, and we are pleased to be able to empower young women and provide them with these scholarships to help further their educations.”

The National First Ladies Library & Museum is currently showcasing “Leaders in Literacy: First Ladies as Teachers, Educators, and Librarians,” which examines the lives of nearly a dozen First Ladies who held education and literacy as critical values to the American experience. The exhibit features one-room schoolhouse teachers such as Abigail Fillmore as well as educators such as Grace Coolidge, who taught deaf students at the Clarke School for the Deaf. The exhibit also features an extraordinary loan from the Arthurdale Heritage Museum featuring First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s efforts to create a New Deal-era “homestead” that would provide a new chance at life and an education for impoverished residents in this West Virginia community. In addition, the exhibit includes artifacts from the George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush Presidential Museums related to First Ladies Barbara and Laura Bush, who were dedicated to the cause of literacy.

The National First Ladies Library & Museum at the First Ladies National Historic Site is open from Tuesday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 


About the National First Ladies Library & Museum

We preserve, promote, and educate about the significant role and contributions of our nation’ s First Ladies, inspiring young leaders by telling the story of American history uniquely through the eyes of women.

The National First Ladies Library & Museum was founded in Canton, Ohio, in 1995 by Mary Regula, wife of former U.S. Representative Ralph Regula. It is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a mission to preserve, promote and educate about the significant role of First Ladies of the U.S. and their contributions throughout history. We aim to inspire young leaders by telling the story of American history uniquely through the eyes of the women who served alongside their presidential husbands. The organization operates and manages the First Ladies National Historic Site in a partnership agreement with the National Park Service. In 2000, President Bill Clinton signed a bill establishing the First Ladies National Historic Site in Canton as the 380th unit of the National Park Service. The site consists of the Ida Saxton McKinley House, the family home of First Lady Ida Saxton McKinley and the longtime residence of President William and Ida McKinley, as well as First Ladies Park and the National First Ladies Library & Museum (Visitors Center), which includes exhibit space, a Victorian theatre, a research library, conference and seminar rooms, archival storage and processing rooms, and administrative offices. We preserve, promote, and educate about the significant role and contributions of our nation’ s First Ladies, inspiring young leaders by telling the story of American history uniquely through the eyes of women.

 

Leaders in Literacy

4/30/2024 through 4/30/2025

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First Ladies as Teachers, Educators, and Librarians.

The right to an education is a foundational principle of America’s history, and many First Ladies have taken up this cause. We celebrate National First Ladies Day by kicking off this featured exhibit, presented by Huntington Bank.