MHS besties claim Keizer Heritage scholarships

McKinsey Jarnagin (left) and Jorie Skipper were this year’s recipients of the Keizer Heritage Foundation Scholarships (Submitted).

McKinsey Jarnagin and Jorie Skipper have had a lot in common over the course of their last four years at McNary High.

Not only did the two students become best friends in their respective freshman years, they also each had a 4.0 grade-point average throughout high school and served in National Honor Society together.

But the comparisons don’t stop there. Jarnagin and Skipper were doubles partners for the McNary girls’ tennis team last season and were in the McNary science club together.

“We have been best friends for the last four years. We are a lot alike in so many ways,” Skipper said.

To put the cherry on top of each of their high school lives, Jarnagin and Skipper were not only named two of McNary’s valedictorians, they were also the two recipients of the two annual Keizer Heritage Foundation scholarships — which awards Jarnagin and Skipper $1,000 to go straight towards tuition costs.

“Anyone could have won it. All that applied were worthy. But what separated (Jarnagin and Skipper) was their continuous direct investment in the community,” said Betty Bolin, the administrator for the Keizer Heritage Foundation. “They were there to help their classmates and the community in any way they could.”

“It’s important for a small community like Keizer to take care of our kids. I know $1,000 isn’t a lot, but even if it makes a little bit of a difference, it’s well worth it.”

When Jarnagin first found she was the winner, she had a hard time controlling her elation.

“My mom called me when she got in the mail. When she told me I won, I was freaking out. I was so excited,” Jarnagin said.

Jarnagin will be attending Western Oregon University (WOU) in the fall to study chemistry. Her eventual goal is to either become a chemistry teacher or work in a research lab.

“I really like the small-campus feel of WOU and that it’s close to home,” Jarnagin said. “And I’m really glad I get the opportunity to study something I’m passionate about. I’ve always loved science. It has always been challenging and interesting to me.”

Jarnagin volunteered in dozens of different capacities in her time at McNary. But it was the work she did at the Simonka House that really had an impact on her — Simonka House, which is located in Keizer, is a shelter for women and children.

“I went back to serve there several times. I wanted to help those kids in any way that I could,” Jarnagin said.

While Jarnagin is heading to WOU in the fall, Skipper will be attending Seattle Pacific University (SPU) to study nursing.

“I chose SPU because of their great diversity and I really love the closeness between the faculty and students. I also really appreciate that it’s a Christ-based school,” Skipper said.

“School is really important to me, and I believe that going to a private college allows me access to a better education.”

Skipper became passionate about nursing after being a nursing assistant at a camp for foster kids for three years.

“I love helping people and I feel like being a nursing assistant at camp really opened the door to me on how important nurses are,” Skipper said. “All the work that I did I think really acclimated me to pursue nursing as a profession.”

No matter what happens in college, both Jarnagin and Skipper consider themselves fortunate to have grown up in Keizer.

“I just feel so blessed to be able to grow up in Keizer. Being at the only high school in town means that everyone is backing you. I have had the privilege to be influenced by a great staff and so many great teachers that changed my life,” Skipper said.

“This small town of Keizer has brought me up in such a fantastic way. The people here have been kind to me and they have inspired me. One day, I would love to teach in Keizer and be able to give back,” Jarnagin added.