20th Annual Foundation Recipient

May 5, 2014

Do you remember your first day of High School? Thirteen going on fourteen. Fresh faced, wide-eyed and unaware of all the great memories that would take place in those next four years. Four years of first day of school outfits, football games, homecoming rallies, getting your license, cramming for AP Exams and going to the prom. By the time you have reached graduation and reminiscence about all these memories that were made, you realize that everything leading up to this moment has helped shape you towards your new road of independence. Independence is given to those who have earned it, who have proven to be mature and wise. Maturity is formed through learned experiences usually gained through leadership, looking to the interests of others and learning from people’s past mistakes. For most high school students this is learned in their college years. However, for others, like Vestavia Hills High School Senior Arden Dortch, this has been learned over the past four years.

For the past twenty years, the Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce Foundation has been honored to give a scholarship to a Vestavia Hills High School Senior. The foundation is seen as an “arm” of the Vestavia Hills Chamber. With proceeds from events such as Viva Vestavia, we give money to not only help the economic development in Vestavia Hills but to fund a scholarship to a deserving student. This is a student whom portrays these qualities of maturity, academia, character and service. They must also wish to major in Business or related areas, such as Marketing, Accounting or Finance. After looking over the four outstanding applicants, a committee at the Vestavia Hills Chamber decided upon Arden Dortch. Arden Dortch is not only incredibly bright and driven, but especially involved at Vestavia Hills High School and the surrounding community. Throughout her high school term, Dortch has been involved as the Vestavia Hills Ambassador President, Honor Choir, Show Choir, Just Singin’, Yearbook, Relay for Life and New Student Committee Head Chair. She is also very committed to her church, Oak Mountain Presbyterian, and has been an associate at Ashley Macs for nearly two years. With much of her free time helping others, she credits her greatest life lesson learned thus far to her family and the Lord. Dortch explains, “Family is always there. No matter what, my family has always had my back and I’ve learned to always look to the Lord first and then my family for guidance.”

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With such a foundation, it’s no wonder that she has gained such roles in leadership and likeability. Her roles in leadership have not only helped her become more outgoing and assertive, but given her the discernment to figure out the right time to step up and be a leader or simply step back and listen. She also realizes that being a leader doesn’t mean being alone- rather, understanding the importance of delegating. “Often times others have great ideas and methods to contribute as well. I have learned when to be a leader and then when to let others lead.” With such wisdom, Dortch wants to take her experience to Brock School of Business at Samford University in the fall. Dortch credits her interest in business from working at Ashley Mac’s for the past two years. “I have watched this small business grow further and further each month. I have watched changes be made, managers be hired, and new locations be built. I have been very privileged to work in such a well-run business.” She also notes that whether she runs her own business one day, she will always credit her high school job. After looking at a variety of universities’ Dortch decided upon Brook School of Business after seeing the structure of the courses and intern opportunities that are available. It also helps that Samford blood runs in the family, as both of her parents are alumni.

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As high school comes to an end for Dortch she comments that in the midst of volunteering and serving her time in a plethora of activities, her most favorite high school memory was placing first in their division in Montgomery with the Vestavia Hills Show Choir. “Singing is one of my many passions, so I have been actively involved in many choirs throughout high school. This year, (her) third year of school choir, we took our show to a competition and placed first for the first time in several years.” She explains that it was her most favorite memory because she has seen how much the show choir has grown and improved. It shows that hard work pays off!

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As her Honors American History teacher, Mrs. Lauren Dressback puts it, “She is a stellar student, but more importantly, a stellar human being. A phenomenal young women, kind and caring to all she meets.” With her rare enthusiasm for seeing things develop over time and her kind-heartedness towards others, we can only imagine the wonderful things she will do in the world of business. Congratulations, Arden Dortch! We wish you the very best.