The Etzler family of Hallettsville, three time winners of the GVEC High School Scholarship. Pictured, L to R, is Dad Kevin (the family’s first GVEC High School Scholarship winner); 21-year-old Madison (GVEC scholarship winner number 2 in the family); 18-year-old Delaney (GVEC scholarship winner number 3); Mother Brenda; and 10-year-old Brody (aspiring GVEC High School Scholarship winner).
When 18-year-old Delaney Etzler won a $2,500 GVEC High School Scholarship for college earlier this year, she was both ecstatic and relieved. She was happy, because the money (along with various other scholarships) would help pay for schooling and relieved because she’d have to borrow less money in student loans. The GVEC scholarship brings Delaney $2,500 closer to achieving her dream of becoming a college football athletic trainer and, later into her career, a trainer for an NFL team. Delaney’s joy at winning the GVEC scholarship went beyond student loans and career aspirations, though. She was also happy and relieved to fulfill a family expectation of success. For the Etzlers, scholarships are something of a family tradition—especially GVEC scholarships.
First in the Family
“My dad informed me about the [GVEC] scholarship and told me to apply,” Delaney explained. Following her dad’s advice was a no-brainer—Kevin Etzler won the GVEC High School Scholarship himself in 1987 and used the money to help pay for technical school at Texas State Technical Institute. After finishing school, he went to work for the family business—Etzler Plumbling and Electric Incorporated in Hallettsville—as a building construction electrician.
Kevin learned of the GVEC scholarship through his parents, as well. “The GVEC scholarship helped me a lot in getting through school,” he said. “I work with GVEC all the time now and know quite a few employees there.”
Like Father, Like Daughters
Delaney is set to attend Howard Payne University this fall, where she’s majoring and minoring in athletic training. She’ll live on campus and work consecutively toward a bachelor’s and a master’s. She’s driven to succeed not only by her own desire for success, but also so she doesn’t let her parents and her older sister, Madison, down.
Twenty-one-year-old Madison won the GVEC High School Scholarship in 2016 and currently attends A&M in Kingsville, Texas. She’s majoring in veterinary technology, with a minor in animal science and will be a senior this fall, graduating in May or June of 2020. “I love animals large and small,” Madison said. “I want to work at a mixed-practice animal clinic [after graduation]—I already have a few job prospects.” The GVEC scholarship helped immensely with student loans and relieving the general stress of college finances, she added.
Success Comes Home and Leaves Home, Too
Madison plans to settle down close to home after completing her degree and getting a job, whereas Delaney probably won’t be able to stay in Texas. “After I’ve worked a while and established myself, I may come back,” Delaney said. “I was born and raised in Hallettsville, so it will always be home, and it’s such a great small community—it’s family.”
Madison agreed, adding that leaving Texas or even this region, isn’t an option. “I love this area,” she said, “the rural setting, the countryside, the feeling of being among family and friends everywhere I go out in the community.”
Setting a Standard for Success
Brenda Etzler, mother of the Etzler clan, never won a GVEC scholarship, but she’s no stranger to scholastic success. She graduated 10th overall from her high school class (out of 400) and earned a full scholarship to play basketball at Rice University, where she graduated with a major in sports medicine and a minor in health sciences. She holds a number of individual records on the school’s women’s basketball team. Plus, after her playing days ended, she was inducted into the SWC Dr. Pepper All American Hall of Fame as one of the top eight Rice players in 80 years of SWC basketball.
Brenda attributed her daughters’ success to their work ethic, something the girls learned from their parents. “We have told them from day one,” Brenda said, “that laziness gets you nowhere. You have to work for everything in life. Both our daughters work hard at anything they do—be it academics, sports or the giving of their time for service. They work hard on our farm and for our family, too. As a family, we do not have a lot of money to give organizations—our church, local clubs, the community—but we have able bodies and talents we can share. That’s how Kevin and I have always lived our lives and how we’ve raised our daughters. They’ve learned those lessons well—you can see it in their enthusiasm for life and in their success. Kevin and I couldn’t be prouder.”
Family Appreciation for the GVEC High School Scholarship
Madison echoed her mother’s dedication to hard work in encouraging other local students to apply for the GVEC High School scholarship. “It’s a great opportunity for high school students who work hard and are serious about seeking a college education,” she said. “There’s just so much debt involved with going to college and this eases that worry and anxiety. I am extremely grateful for the opportunities this scholarship has given me.”
Delaney also thanked GVEC for the opportunity to apply for and win the scholarship, while expressing happiness that it helps ease the anxiety her parents feel over sending their daughters to college. “This scholarship helps take a lot of pressure off them,” she said. “And I am so grateful for that.”
Kevin thanked GVEC, while setting the stage for future scholarship within the Etzler clan. “We are very humbled and grateful that we’ve all been able to receive this award. My son, Brody, is 10, and we’ve already talked to him about it; I’m hoping we have a bunch of smart grandchildren who can win [this scholarship], too.”