Kentucky Teens Impacted By Drug Abuse Eligible For College Scholarship

By McCarton Ackerman 10/30/14

Once again, the Sarah Shay Memorial Scholarship and the Michael Donta Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to high school students affected by drugs.

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Kentucky teenagers whose lives have been personally impacted by drug abuse are now eligible to receive one of two college scholarships.

For the second consecutive year, The Sarah Shay Memorial Scholarship and Michael Donta Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to one male and one female graduating high school student. Both scholarships are for $1,500 and the money will be allocated towards any college education expenses.

The scholarships were created by the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office, the Prosecutors Advisory Council, the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI), and two parents who lost their children to prescription drug abuse. Tax-deductible contributions to the scholarship can also be made by the public.

"The toll that the scourge of prescription painkiller abuse has taken on Kentucky families is alarming, and I refuse to lose another generation to this addiction,” said Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway. “This money will help two young people get a fresh start and a chance at completing their college education."

Nineteen-year-old Shay, of Morehead, Ky., died of a prescription drug overdose in 2006. Donta, 24, of Ashland, Ky., lost his battle with prescription painkiller abuse in 2010. Their parents now travel across the state as part of the Keep Kentucky Kids Safe initiative, which warns middle and high school students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.

"I have been fighting alongside General Conway to help make sure other parents across the Commonwealth don't have to experience the reality of losing a child to prescription drug overdose," said Dr. Karen Shay, Sarah’s mother. "There is a hole in my heart that will never heal, but there's comfort in knowing this scholarship will help a young woman, who may have been in a situation very similar to my daughter's, continue her education."

Completed applications must be submitted by January 15 and the recipients of these scholarships will be announced in May.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.