Las Vegas Sun

October 23, 2018

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Fiesta fetes athletes with scholarships

Becky Bedier was Basic High School's female athlete of the year and Brian Ching represented Chaparral High at the zone tennis matches, yet neither one anticipates competing in sports at the collegiate level. The reason: While each has made a mark as an athlete, it's in the academic field that they really excel.

Tuesday, Bedier and Ching were named the first recipients of the Fiesta Casino/Hotel Scholarship Awards. Bedier will attend UNLV and major in hotel administration and business, while Ching will attend Nevada-Reno and major in art.

Both have extensive r'esum'es and credentials beyond sports and the classroom, with an emphasis on volunteer work within the community.

"Aren't these great kids?" said Fiesta owner George J. Maloof Jr., who has modeled the scholarship awards after a program started by his late father in New Mexico in 1979. "I'm real pleased with them and I'm happy the program has been so well received by the Clark County School District."

Bedier and Ching were selected from among 30 finalists by an 11-person panel on behalf of the Fiesta.

In Bedier's case, the scholarship money will enable her to attend college after it appeared she might not have that opportunity. Her father suffered an injured shoulder in a work-related accident, and, consequently, the family's finances were depleted.

"I'm very grateful," she said. "Without this scholarship I wouldn't be going on to school."

A member of the Wolves' volleyball and soccer teams, Bedier said participating in volunteer work has always been a labor of love. She has given freely of her time, taking part in numerous activities with Special Olympics, her church and convalescent hospitals.

"I didn't do it thinking, 'Oh, this would look good on my resume,'" she said. "I did it because it was so enjoyable for me."

Bedier is a senior with a 3.88 grade point average.

Ching, Chaparral's student body president, is a senior with a 3.95 GPA. He said the scholarship money will enable him to attend UNR, where his brother, Erick, is enrolled.

"I wanted to go to the University of Pacific but the tuition is $28,000 and that was just too much for my family," he said. "Getting this scholarship is a great help and my brother has nothing but high praise for UNR, so that sounds perfect for me."

The scholarship recipients were obligated to attend college at either UNLV or UNR.

Ching was selected not only for his involvement in sports and student government, but for his volunteer work with organizations like the St. Vincent's Shelter.

"One thing I say is that if I'm involved, I'll give 100 percent," Ching said. "I may not be a member of every club or take part in every activity, but I do like to help people and I'll always give my best."

That's just what Maloof and the selection committee were looking for as they sorted through the many scholarship applications.

"I wanted to do something for Las Vegas," Maloof said, "and this scholarship program is very special to me and my family."

Maloof's father, a businessman and former owner of the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association, initiated a similar program in New Mexico and this year will present its 18th annual scholarship winners.

"It's become kind of a famous award in New Mexico and I hope that's what happens here," Maloof said. "My father believed there was no reason a good athlete couldn't be a good student, and he wanted to do something to promote that belie and help the community. We're just trying to do the same thing here."