By Bernadette Russoniello
Maricopa High School seniors received honors and recognition for academic, athletic and private scholarships totaling more than $8 million at the May 7 Senior Honors Night. Autumn Fausz, like many other 2019 graduates, earned a full-ride, university scholarship.
Fausz graduated as an AFJROTC cadet and leader. She has been a JROTC cadet since her freshman year, following in the footsteps of her father and brother. She will attend Northern Arizona University pursuing a major in criminology/forensic science with a minor in forestry. Her career goals involve working as a Game and Fish Warden or a national park ranger, “anything where I’m out in the woods.” Fausz grew up in wooded areas of North Carolina and fell in love with the forest.
Fausz moved to Maricopa mid-sophomore year to be closer to extended family after losing her father Wayne Fausz in a car accident. U.S. Army Command Sgt. Major Wayne Fausz led the Wolf Pack battalion of the 82nd Airborne. The Fausz family was involved in a head-on collision caused by a sleeping driver. Her father passed away in flight to the hospital; Autumn and her brother were also critically injured in the crash.
The Marine Gunnery Sgt. John David Fry Scholarship provides post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to children and surviving spouses of service members who died in the line of duty or while on active duty after Sept.10, 2001. Autumn learned of the scholarship through her mother and applied early this fall. The scholarship covers the full cost of attendance at any U.S. university. Autumn selected NAU.
Fausz was also recognized at the AFJROTC Awards Ceremony for the Bri Barnes Community Service Scholarship presented by Jim and Alice Shoaf of the Maricopa Pantry. The award honors the AFJROTC cadet who made the biggest impact and commitment to community service. Autumn was selected because she leads the Community Service team for AFJROTC and led the community-wide canned food drive for the Maricopa Pantry. Additionally, Autumn frequently volunteers at Feed My Starving Children to pack food boxes for children in need.
Although Fausz and her family have been through a lot over the past nine years, she attests “we are definitely stronger from the experience.” She expresses gratitude to her parents, Natasha Faust and Gary Hysop, for the support and love they provide, for always pushing her to do her best. “Although no one can replace my dad, I never imagined someone could fill that role in my life, to be a father figure.”
Fausz is ready for adulthood, ready to move forward, and looking forward to her life at Northern Arizona University.
Bernadette Russoniello is the career and college coordinator at Maricopa High School.
This column appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.