SOMERSET – Somerset High School senior Haley Coldiron was recognized Tuesday, May 14, as one of first recipients of an “I Am UNITE” scholarship.

Coldiron_scholarship 5-14-13This is the first year for the scholarships, valued at $1,500 each.

Coldiron was presented the scholarship by Dale Morton, UNITE communications director, and Shannon Rickett, field representative for Fifth District Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers. It was Rogers’ vision that inspired the creation of Operation UNITE a decade ago.

A total of 19 “I Am UNITE” scholarships are being given this year by the UNITE Foundation, funded through private donations and proceeds from two National Rx Drug Abuse Summits.

To receive a scholarship and be named a UNITE Ambassador, students had to demonstrate: commitment to their school’s UNITE Club, personal contributions to his or her school and community, exemplify UNITE’s goals by living a drug-free lifestyle, and write an essay.

“UNITE’s activities have pushed me outside of my comfort zone,” Haley wrote in her scholarship essay. “It is always difficult to tell friends what they need to hear instead of what they want to hear.”

The scholarship also comes with a desktop award naming the recipient a “UNITE Ambassador,” a reminder to keep inspiring others each day of their lives.

This school year, Somerset’s 32-member UNITE Club was one of 118 clubs with more than 9,500 student members in 26 counties – the largest number of participants since the initiative began in 2005.

“Someone dies every 15 minutes of a drug-related overdose. Ensuring that every person in every community understands the dangers posed by prescription drugs, and what to do when a loved one struggles with an addiction, is one of UNITE’s top priorities,” Morton said. “UNITE believes that prevention, particularly among our youth, is the best way to reduce drug use and its deadly consequences.”