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Students and their parents had a chance Monday to learn about dozens of local scholarships offering about a quarter of a million dollars to St. Mary’s students.

BECA — the Business, Education, Community Alliance — hosts the scholarship fair annually at the Dr. James A. Forrest Career and Technology Center to bring attention to its common scholarship application.

Scholarships available

The 2013 St. Mary’s County Common Scholarship Application is available for download at www.smcbeca.org. A list of scholarships is also available at the site. The deadline for submission is Friday, March 15.

BECA will host its annual scholarship benefit on Friday, March 15, from 6 to 10 p.m. at Bowles Farms in Clements. This year’s theme will be a barn dance; dress code is country casual attire and dinner, auction and entertainment will be provided. Visit smcbeca.org for more information.

Mark Smith, coordinator of special programs for St. Mary’s public schools, said that 41 different businesses, organizations and individuals are offering scholarships through the common application this year. That is the most ever, he said.

He said there were about 230 applicants last year.

Last year more than 100 local scholarships were awarded worth approximately $250,000 through the BECA application; this year’s total will likely be more, organizers said.

New to the BECA common application this year is an offering from the Tau Lambda Lambda chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. The group has offered scholarships to St. Mary’s County, as well as Charles and Calvert counties, since 2004 but never received more than a handful applicants from St. Mary’s, Glen White said.

“We want more participation from St. Mary’s County, White said.

The group offers scholarships specifically to African-American students. Last year it offered 13 $1,000 scholarships; this year it hopes to increase that offering.

Susie Mendoza said this is the third year the Southern Maryland Corvette Club has offered a scholarship, and thanks to the common application it had more than 100 applicants.

“It was a tough decision,” she said, adding that there were a lot of well-qualified applicants.

“We focus on the engineering field,” Mendoza said.

The club has increased their scholarship from $500 to $1,000 this year.

Kavona Chase, who is set to graduate from high school this spring at the age of 16, attended the scholarship fair with her mother. She has already applied to Bowie State University and is still looking at a few other options. Monday’s fair helped her see just how many scholarship options are available.

Wayne Hubbard for the second time is offering a scholarship in the name of his son, Taylor, who died in 2010 in what the father said was ruled an unexplained accident at George Washington University at the end of his sophomore year.

“We tried to do it before, but it was just too hard,” the father said.

He said several of his son’s friends and family make up a small scholarship board, which plans to give away a $1,000 scholarship to a “humanitarian scholar,” someone who represents Taylor’s many good qualities.

“He was more than just a humanitarian. He was a friend to everybody,” his father said.

BECA will hold a fundraising event for its own scholarships in March. Students can fill out the common scholarship application on the group’s website by the March 15 deadline.

All of the scholarships on the common application require completion of the student aid report from the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), as well as two letters of recommendation, SAT score report, and essay and a transcript. Some of the scholarships do require extra information or additional essays.

jyeatman@somdnews.com