Past Employee & Customer of the Year Recipients
Meet APRO's Past Scholarship Recipients
APRO's 2012 Educational Scholarship Recipients ($5000)
Andrea Kirk, University of Alabama, Birmingham, Alabama
APRO Sponsor: Kyle Kirk, Bestway, Jasper, Alabama
Andrea spends most of her time working, studying and helping her school. She volunteered with “Into the Streets” to help clean up the nature trails, organized a “Holiday Cheer” program for the elderly, “Crafting with Kids” for the elementary schools and volunteers at the zoo while being recognized with the presidential honors for her contributions. She works as a residents’ assistant in her university dorm to help finance her education and has a 3.95 GPA. She hopes to pass on her knowledge and kindness as a science teacher.
Kiersten Scheele, University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio
APRO Sponsor: Jerry Scheele, Rent-A-Center, Zanesville, Ohio
Kiersten is a two-time APRO scholarship winner. She continues her volunteer work in occupational therapy, helping disabled children develop motor skills and enhance their social interaction. She has already donated 160 hours of her time in the past two years. Kiersten is also active helping the homeless, Children’s Miracle Network and the Abilities Center of Greater Toledo. She currently has a 3.7 GPA.
Kelsey Solarz, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio
APRO Sponsor: Matthew Solarz, Eagle Rental-Purchase, Cleveland, Ohio
Kelsey is a sophomore holding a 4.0 grade point average. She is on the Dean’s List, President’s List and was chosen as a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. Kelsey is an active participant in the Practical Nursing and Kent Interhall Council, is the team leader for her American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. She is also an accomplished singer. She works two part-time jobs while helping take care of her grandmother, who has cancer, and her brother, who has epilepsy. Kelsey plans to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
APRO's 2012 Educational Scholarship Recipients ($4000)
Michael Elkik, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia
APRO Sponsor: Ann Elkik, Aaron’s Sales and Lease Ownership, Kennesaw, Georgia
Michael is an APRO scholarship recipient for the second time and is highly motivated to continue the path that led him to receive last year’s scholarship. In his first year of college, Michael joined the 4H Club, helping clean the rivers in the area. He joined the UGA HEROs to raise money for the financially unstable and HIV/AIDS-affected children and he participates in his dorm’s philanthropy committee. He made the Dean’s List this year with a 3.77 GPA.
Haley Sims, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
APRO Sponsor: Jeffery Keller, Eagle Rental-Purchase, Cleveland, Ohio
With two jobs, a rigorous training schedule and full-time class schedule, sophomore Haley Sims makes the most of her time. She is a College of Allied Health Sciences representative and competes in the many campus health challenges as well as charity races such as Relay for Life and St. John Run for Charity. Haley volunteers for Meals on Wheels and the University of Cincinnati Early Learning Center. She has a 3.25 GPA and is working on a nutrition and exercise physiology degree.
APRO's 2012 Educational Scholarship Recipients ($3000)
Jafon Fearson, University of Missouri School of Law, Columbia, Missouri
APRO Sponsor: Shirley Fearson, Rent-A-Center, Phenix City, Alabama
With the help of last year’s APRO scholarship, Jafon graduated from the University of Alabama as the undergraduate commencement keynote speaker. He volunteered in the Mayor’s Office Youth Services Christmas Toy Giveaway and the university’s Blazer Male Excellence Network mentoring program. He was a member of the President’s List and the Order of Mega Honor Society. Jafon now takes his scholarship and fertile mind in pursuit of a law degree.
Courtney Grantham, Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, Tennessee
APRO Sponsor: David Grantham, Bestway, Clarksville, Tennessee
Courtney grew up with rent-to-own—her father has been in the RTO business for 24 years. Courtney is transferring to Bethel University with a 4.0 GPA. As a freshman at Austin Peay University, she was a member of the Honors Society and spent time with Young Life to mentor children and volunteer in community service activities. She plans to graduate with a business degree.
Faith Jennings, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky
APRO Sponsor: Steven “Brent” Jennings, Rent-A-Center, Nicholasville, Kentucky
This year, Faith receives her second APRO scholarship while she continues her education as a senior pursuing a psychology degree. Faith spent four days in Mississippi helping rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Other charitable endeavors include tutoring children in Appalachia, volunteering for the National Parks Service and assisting children with Dravet’s syndrome. Faith aspires to attend the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy after graduation.
Dylan McLean, St. Louis College of Pharmacy, St. Louis, Missouri
APRO Sponsor: Terry McLean, Rent One, Mt. Vernon, Illinois
Dylan grew up with the rent-to-own industry; his father has worked in the industry for the past 22 years. Dylan is entering the St. Louis School of Pharmacy as an active member of his high school, where he is a member of the student council and editor of the school newspaper. Dylan volunteered at a no-kill animal shelter and has organized the Angel Tree Christmas for those in need in his community. He has been on the honor roll every semester and received the Southern Illinois Society for High School Achievement Award.
Cristina Villarroel, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
APRO Sponsor: Cristobol Villarroel, Rent-A-Center, Hialeah, Florida
Cristina holds a 3.67 GPA at the University of Florida. She wants to be a lawyer and, as preparation, she won first place in a mock trial tournament. She is co-director of community service for her pre-law fraternity where she has helped coordinate various projects such as road clean-ups, visiting cancer patients and being team captain for the Relay of Life race. She also helps mentor high school students regarding eating disorders and self-esteem.
APRO's 2012 Educational Scholarship Recipients ($2000)
Chris Bingham, Emory & Henry College, Emory, Virginia
APRO Sponsor: Mike Bingham, Aaron’s Sales and Lease Ownership, Atlanta, Georgia
When Chris was not performing as the cowardly lion in his high school’s production of The Wizard of Oz, he was being recognized as a scholar-athlete award winner. High school activities also included participation in student government, volunteer clubs, “Mary’s Letters,” which helps those in assisted-living facilities keep in touch with friends and families, and Valentine’s Day card making for children in the hospital. Chris also participated in the Cancer Relay for Life for the past three years. He is a recipient of McDonald’s Ray Kroc Youth Achievement Award.
Molly Bliss, University of South Carolina Upstate, Spartanburg, South Carolina
APRO Sponsor: Robert Bliss, Rent-A-Center, Milford, Delaware
Molly spent her high school years immersed in track and field as the team co-captain and she played on the varsity soccer team. She is a member of the Future Farmers of America, Varsity Club, Honors Society and Spanish Honor Society. Molly volunteered as a kindergarten soccer coach and, for the past three years, in the U Just Ask toy drive at her church. She graduated with a 3.9 GPA and will pursue a degree in biology.
Patrick Estep, University of Alabama, Birmingham, Alabama
APRO Sponsor: Roger Estep, Aaron’s Sales and Lease Ownership, Albertville, Alabama
Patrick is a college senior pursuing a biomedical engineering degree. He has spent many hours during his college years mentoring fellow students. He also mentors through the Campfire USA program “Links Up,” where he helps guide at-risk students. The program emphasizes self development, self esteem, trust and friendship. Patrick holds a 3.8 GPA and is on his way to graduating magna cum laude.
Melissa Lunsford, Cisco College, Cisco, Texas
APRO Sponsor: Scott Lunsford, Briley Investments, Abilene, Texas
Melyssa grew up in the rent-to-own industry watching her father’s customer service philosophy: “kill the customer with kindness.” She spent her high school years playing softball, basketball and being the football team’s athletic trainer. For the past four years, she has volunteered for the Loving Care Ministries, preparing food and feeding the homeless every Wednesday. She volunteers for the All Texas Youth Football League and the YMCA’s Tri Hi Y, where she learns leadership skills and the necessity of community awareness. Melyssa will be playing softball for the Cisco College team.
Luis R. Perez, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, Massachusetts
APRO Sponsor: Luis Perez, Rent-A-Center, New Bedford, Massachusetts
Luis arrived in the U.S. from the Dominican Republic when he was in seventh grade. He has donated more than 300 hours of community service at the Gifts to Give factory, which provides clothes and school supplies to the poor. Luis has also traveled with his father—also named Luis—to Puerto Rico to help clean beaches as part of the AmeriCorps program. Having graduated from high school, he will be pursuing an accounting degree.
Michael Sonnenfelt, St. Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri
APRO Sponsor: Paul Sonnenfelt, Aaron’s Sales and Lease Ownership, Affton, Missouri
Michael graduated from high school with a 3.9 GPA. He spent his high school years as a member of the school’s Model United Nations team. He became one of the four lead delegates mentoring the underclass on diplomacy in foreign politics. The team he lead won the Model United Nations conference competition held at Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois. Michael is pursuing a degree in engineering.
APRO's 2012 Educational Scholarship Recipients ($1000)
Harrison Daniel, Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas
APRO Sponsor: Timothy Daniel, FAN Sales and Leasing, dba Aaron’s Sales and Lease Ownership, Fayetteville, Arkansas
Harrison spent his high school days volunteering as a camp counselor, teacher’s aide for children with disabilities and pantry organizer for a local food bank. He was the Optimist Club Faulkner County Teen of the Month, Conway Christian School honor graduate with a 4.0 GPA and was an Arkansas Governor’s Distinguished Scholar. Harrison has been working as a product technician in his sponsoring Aaron’s Sales and Lease Ownership store.
Christian Dunlap, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
APRO Sponsor: Nancy Dunlap, Countryside Rentals, Bainbridge, Ohio
Chris is receiving his second APRO scholarship having fulfilled last year’s commitment to excel at Southern State Community College and be accepted to Ohio University. He was named on the Dean’s List, the President’s list and received an accommodation letter from Ohio House Representative Clifford Rosenberger. He was a captain of a college research team and tutored other teammates and classmates during the session.
Katy Hudspeth, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma
APRO Sponsor: Susan Hudspeth, Rent-A-Center, Plano, Texas
Katie plans to graduate with a speech pathology degree then continue on to get her doctorate. She has spent her years at OSU as a member of the National Student Speech-Language Hearing Association and Kappa Delta. She has volunteered for the Prevent Child Abuse program and the Stillwater Domestic Violence Center. Katie has been on the Dean’s List and President’s Honor Role throughout her time at college and she maintains a 3.6 GPA.
Andrew Korst, University of Texas, Austin, TX
APRO Sponsor: Chris Korst, Rent-A-Center, Plano, Texas
Andrew’s high school counselor has said that, “Andrew is a Renaissance man.” Through his success in choir, football, drama, the senior board, student council and as a member of the Honor Society, Andrew exemplifies the Renaissance spirit. He is a National Merit Commended student and Advance Placement Scholar. He also spends time as a leader in his church and has led mission trips to aid people in need across the U.S.
Jimiah Williams, Berry College, Mount Berry, Georgia
APRO Sponsor: Natasha Riddick, Aaron’s Sales and Lease Ownership, Atlanta, Georgia
Jimiah graduated from high school as a member of DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America), the National Honor Society and the Student Government Association as senior class vice president. She volunteers at Relay for Life, local parks and her school. She graduated with a 3.8 GPA.
APRO's 2011 Educational Scholarship Recipients ($3000)
Kaylie Scherer, Indiana University
APRO Sponsor: Rick Sherer, American Rentals
National honor society, Academic Honors Diploma, Washington Leadership Program, Washington, D.C. intern. Volunteer for Special Olympics, Community Kitchen, local food bank, nursing homes and teaching gardening at the local elementary schools.
Faith Jennings, University of Kentucky
APRO Sponsor: Brent Jennings, Rent-A-Center
Salutatorian, Beta Club, National Honor Society, Kentucky Governor's Scholar, Captain of the speech team and academic team. Volunteered 60 hours of community service.
Dean's List every semester but one. 3.7 GPA.
APRO's 2011 Educational Scholarship Recipients ($2500)
Jennifer DeBouse, Capella University
Aaron's University Training Administrator
Jennifer has worked for Aarons for the past three years. She manages the Aaron's University database, schedules training sessions and provides technical support for Aaron's University issues.
Jennifer helped create an alliance with Aaron's and Capella University creating and Alliance Partnership Agreement to help Aarons associates attain a college degree. When Jennifer isn't helping at Aaron's, she volunteers for Second Chance Career and Development Center, Project Healthy Grandparents and Hope House for Women.
Chad Jasman, University of Michigan
APRO Sponsor: James Jasman, Rent-A-Center
Chad grew up with rent-to-own watching his father work for the rent-to-own industry for nearly 20 years. Chad graduated High School with a 4.0 GPA and being named as an academic all state athlete.
Chad plays college baseball and was named on the 2010 NJCAA Academic All-American team. When Chad is not fielding baseballs, he is volunteering for Habitat for Humanity and the local homeless shelter.
Kiersten Scheele, University of Toledo
APRO Sponsor: Jerry Scheele, Rent-A-Center
Kiersten graduated high school with a 4.0 and an Honors Diploma. She volunteered for the local animal shelter and the Salvation Army while working her part-time job.
At the University of Toledo, she is a member of the Dean's list and was recently accepted into the Phi Eta Sigma National Honors Society due to her academic excellence. Kiersten also spent her freshman and sophomore years volunteering for the American Red Cross and 80 hours of volunteer work for children with disabilities to help her fulfill her goal obtaining a degree in occupational therapy.
APRO's 2011 Educational Scholarship Recipients ($2000)
Christian Dunlap, Southern State Community College
APRO Sponsor: Nancy Dunlap, Countryside Rentals
Christian recently graduated high school with a 3.98 GPA as a member of the National Honors Society. Christian spent his high school years as a treasurer for the 4H club, High School Football Captain and the FFA.
Christian also took time out as a mentor and tutor fellow classmates. Christian will be attending Southern State Community College to then transfer to Ohio State University.
Tyler Heck, Union Collate at Schenectady, New York
APRO Sponsor: Greg Heck, Great Rentals
Tyler spent his life working at his father's Great Rentals rent-to-own stores in Utica and Rome, NY.
Tyler has seen firsthand the power of rent-to-own to give those Americans "the opportunity to make the unaffordable affordable". Tyler maintains a 3.95 GPA while starting for the Division III College Baseball team.
Jafon Fearson, University of Alabama
APRO Sponsor: Shirley Fearson, Rent-A-Center
RAC's Shirley Fearson spent many years working hard for her family so her son Jafon made sure to honor her obtaining a college degree while helping others to do the same.
Jafon is in his senior year at the University of Alabama pursuing a Biomedical Engineering degree. Jafon knows the struggles of the African American males face during their educational pursuits so has spent his years at UA helping other African American males finish their degrees through the Blazer Male Excellence Network.
APRO's 2011 Educational Scholarship Recipients ($1500)
Kassie Barroso, Ivy Tech at Anderson, Indiana
APRO Sponsor: Joseph Stepke, Aaron's
Kassie is off to college "as a tribute to her hero" – her dad Joseph Stepke from Aarons. Joseph sacrificed years of hard work to make sure Kassie had the chance for college and she wants to thank her father and mother with a teaching degree.
Kassie spent her High School lettering in concert band and on the Rugby team. She participated in the ROTC and many other school activities.
Robert Sonnenfelt, St. Louis University
APRO Sponsor: Paul Sonnenfelt, Aaron's
Robert is a sophomore at St. Louis University pursuing a degree in Political Science. Robert spent his High School years as a member of the Model United Nations, varsity soccer and the National Honor Society.
He continues his political involvement at SLU as an active member of the College Republicans and the Student Conduct Board.
Matthew Bowen, Francis Marion University
APRO Sponsor: Kenneth Bowen, Rent-A-Center
Matthew has excelled in education all of his life. He graduated high school with a weighted 4.297 GPA and maintains a 4.0 GPA at Francis Marion University.
Matthew gives back as much as possible through Toys for Tots donations, canned food and clothing drives to the point of being "happily dunked in a dunking booth for hours" for these causes.
APRO's 2011 Educational Scholarship Recipients ($1000)
Dusty Ray, Vincennes University
Rent One Regional Manager
Rent One "Regional Manager of the Year" Dusty Ray is completing his marketing degree at Vincennes University. Dusty was also Rent One's "Employee of the Year".
Dusty is an active member of the local chamber of commerce volunteering time and efforts for the many community events both as a Rent One employee and as a citizen.
Christopher Willman-Bunge, Penn State – Mont Alto
APRO Sponsor: Martha Willman, Blue Ribbon Rentals
Christopher grew up in a one-parent household and knows the financial hardships well. While in high school, Christopher participated in the orchestra and choir.
He achieved the rank of Eagle Scout with a specialty World Conservation Award. He plans to pursue English as a writer/reporter.
Michael Elkik, University of Georgia
APRO Sponsor: Ann Elkik, Aaron's
Michael graduated high school with a weighted 4.1 GPA and an un-weighted 3.8 GPA. During high school, Michael worked with "Shop with a Mustang" sponsoring an underprivileged child.
Michael was president of DECA, the school's business club and winning business competitions at the local, state and international levels.
Brittany Smith, North Carolina State University
APRO Sponsor: Shawna Smith, Rent-A-Center
Brittany completed her junior year at North Carolina State University. Her family grew up struggling through economic hard times but always kept a focus on education.
She was awarded a fellowship from the Organizational Science Summer Institute and studied abroad in Mexico. Brittany has volunteered for Salvation Army. Tutors middle school children as a part of work-study program and volunteers for the "Strengthening the Black Family" non-profit helping with diabetes prevention and promoting health and wellness.
Jordan Miller, Virginia Tech
APRO Sponsor: John Miller, Premier Rentals
Jordan Miller graduated high school with a 3.9 GPA earning him admission to Virginia Tech. Jordan is actively involved in his church, helping the under-served on church missions in Memphis and Baltimore.
He also donates his time and labor to the poor and elderly and now serves on his church's parish council.
Cole Weir, Brigham Young University
APRO Sponsor: Mike Weir, TUR, Inc. dba Aaron's
Cole just graduated high school with a 3.78 GPA. Cole demonstrated his leadership skills through his school's wrestling and football team.
He spent most of his energy on the wrestling team working up to team captain while excelling in his studies.
2011 APRO Member Franchise Company, Rent n Roll, Dedicated Scholarships
$2500 Scholarship Winners
Brandon Burrell, Rent-n-Roll/Baber's Mobile, AL
Jessica Darnell, Rent-n-Roll Rogers, AR
Kelly Pierce, RNR Custom Wheels Las Vegas, NV