Resident donates scholarships in honor of late husband


MIO — Mio AuSable Board of Education President Penny Irelan donated two scholarships to students in her late husband’s name at the school May 15.

The scholarships went to Chris Bush and Ashley Shaw.

James Irelan passed away Feb. 20 of this year. Penny said the idea to give out the scholarships came to her when she was thinking about what to do for her husband’s visitation services.

“In lieu of flowers I wanted to do something to honor the hard-working man my husband was,” Penny said. “Part of it was because he thought education was important. He thought all children needed to at least finish high school.”

Residents donated enough money for Penny to donate two $500 scholarships for the next three years to Mio AuSable students. After the funds have been used up, Irelan said she and her children will have to decide whether to ask for donations again to keep the scholarship going.

Penny said while her husband was not boastful about his support for the school, he was always providing assistance from behind the scenes. She said her husband was very involved in completing the Mio football stadium, and was always supportive of the board of education. Penny said it was her husband’s dream to win the lottery so he could donate more to the school than he was able to.

Irelan said her scholarship is slightly different than most as it is only available to students who are pursuing alternative upper-education opportunities, rather than a four-year university. Whether that be a trade school, nursing school or similar type of education is up to the student.

“My husband was self-employed and he graduated from high school,” Penny said. “He never went to college and still managed to make a very good living due to hard work and honesty.”

Penny said that knowing the community cared enough to donate to the scholarship program is an honor.

“It’s overwhelming,” Penny said. “It is totally awesome that we can provide scholarships for students pursuing non-traditional education choices.”

Students interested in applying for the scholarship next year will be tasked with writing an essay about why they deserve it and how it will be used. Winners are chosen by Penny and her children.


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