Scholarship Winner Has Overcome Obstacles

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Scholarship winner Amber Altice (right) and Don Holliday board member Justin Ditmore with her check.
Scholarship winner Amber Altice (right) and Don Holliday board member Justin Ditmore with her check.
Scholarship winner Amber Altice (right) and Don Holliday board member Justin Ditmore with her check.

Sometimes life throws a curveball or two; it’s about how you avoid them – or hit them out of the park – that can make the difference. William Byrd High School senior Amber Altice was ranked 1st in her class with a 4.05 GPA. Altice, who has made the honor roll every year since 2002, is a Beta Club member, a community volunteer and the starting pitcher for the Terrier’s softball squad.

But, the team MVP has also endured loosing her home to fire, the divorce of her parents, and life with a single parent – her father. Amber will be the first member of her immediate family to graduate from high school, but she intends to go even further as she plans to study engineering at Virginia Tech this fall.  Altice will do so with the help of funds like the 2009 Don Holliday Memorial Scholarship, a $20,000 grant she was awarded  Monday.

The Don Holliday Memorial Golf Tournament raises money for the annual scholarship, now in its 23rd year. The event was started to honor the memory of Don Holliday, a district sales manager for Piedmont Airlines and avid golfer. Altice was the third female winner of an award that has some connection to golf, even if the recipient has just “bought a golf club,” as board member Justin Ditmore joked.

Whitney Morris (William Byrd, 2002) and Vickie Linkous (Patrick Henry, 1989) were the other female winners. Some Holliday scholarship recipients played in high school while others, like Altice (she has played at par-three Brookside) had a more tenuous link to the game.

“A great young lady and credit to our school,” said William Byrd principal Richard Turner, on hand for the oversized check ceremony at 419 West.  “They’ve overcome all those [personal issues]. It really went to a deserving person.”

Altice thanked her father, grandparents and other family members for pushing her along.

During her freshman year at Byrd, “my house burned down to the ground…[with] all of our possessions.” The family rebuilt it, moved in again last year – and then had to sell it because her parents divorced.  It turned out they were underinsured and owed money on the mortgage. “It was extremely devastating [and] took a severe toll,” said Altice.

“With my perseverance I overcame a lot of things in my life. Just keeping that in mind and everything I went through, how thankful I am to still be alive from the house fire. I’m really goal-oriented and I want to be successful,” Altice said.