After the passing of Career and Technical Education Center founding contributor Charles “Chuck” Lee, CTEC honors six finalists for their stories of hope and awards students with more than $8,500 in scholarships.

When former Salem-Keizer School Board director and president of the Mountain West Career Technical Institute first spoke about the vision of the district’s new Career and Technical Education Center, he spoke of hope. Chuck, alongside leaders from the district, business and industry community saw CTEC as the place of hope for kids, leading to a strong workforce and community here in Salem. During a small ceremony held at the now fully established CTEC facility, six students were recognized as finalists for the Chuck Lee Memorial Scholarship for Hope.

Each student shared their story of hope, which was realized through the opportunities at CTEC. Their stories showcased the tangible impact of the public-private partnership and the vision of CTEC.

Scholarship Process

To apply for the scholarship, students wrote essays describing how attending CTEC had increased the sense of hope in their lives and how receiving a scholarship would provide additional hope for their futures. Hundreds of students shared powerful stories in their essays, and the top six finalists were honored in front of family, classmates and community members at the center’s second annual scholarship ceremony.

Full list of finalists

  • Kyla Graeber – Sprague High School, CTEC Law Enforcement, $5,000 scholarship
  • Sarah Moore – West Salem High School, CTEC Cosmetology, $2,500 scholarship
  • Logan Hardin – South Salem High School, CTEC Auto Body, $1,000 scholarship
  • Ash Stacy – Sprague High School and CTEC Culinary, $100 Visa gift card
  • Cece Hill – Roberts High School and CTEC 3D Design, $100 Visa gift card
  • Gwen Handler – West Salem High School, CTEC Culinary, $100 Visa gift card

Scholarships can be used by students to support anything related to their futures: tuition, tools, training, etc.

“It has been more than a year and a half since we lost Chuck, but this right here, this is an example of how his legacy is living out through each and every one of our students and the impact they make in our communities. I can’t think of a more meaningful way to honor his memory, his life, and his legacy than to highlight the six students standing before me” said CTEC Principal Rhonda Rhodes.

“Despite traumas and hopelessness, I have had one constant, one support, and one hope. This hope is CTEC,” said CTEC Law Enforcement Professional, Sprague High School student and recipient of a $5,000 scholarship award Kyla Graeber.

“CTEC has been my escape and has been the place where I truly felt accepted. The law enforcement program has given me a home, safety, belonging and a set of skills that have changed the trajectory of my future. These skills have given me the opportunity to instill strength, empowerment and hope within myself. ”

The Career and Technical Education Center and Chuck Lee

The Career and Technical Education Center first opened in 2015 with the first two programs: Manufacturing, Welding and Engineering and Residential Construction. Now, at its full capacity, CTEC hosts 10 of the district’s 54 CTE programs and serves nearly 1,000 juniors and seniors who come from each of the district’s comprehensive high schools and Roberts High School. CTEC students work side-by-side with industry professionals and core academic teachers to build a competitive advantage they’ll use in their next step after high school.

The scholarship honors the legacy of Charles “Chuck” Lee, a founding contributor of CTEC and a significant supporter of the Salem and Keizer community in many capacities. He held a seat on the Keizer City Council, served as a director on the Salem-Keizer School Board, worked as the president of Blanchet Catholic School, and fostered the partnership between Mountain West Investment Corporation and Salem-Keizer Public Schools to create CTEC. As the key fundraiser for the project, Mr. Lee raised millions of dollars by casting a vision of prosperity and hope.

Photo above:Finalists for the 2023 Chuck Lee Memorial Scholarship for Hope gather for a photo with Krina Lee at the Career and Technical Education Center on Thursday, May 18, 2023.