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    NACS Rewards Excellence

    Ten convenience store employees receive 2006 Jim Yates Scholarships.

    ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) has announced 10 convenience store employees as recipients of the 2006 NACS Jim Yates Scholarships. The annual program recognizes employees in the convenience store industry based on their dedication to achieving excellence in retailing, strong leadership skills at the store level and persistence in the pursuit of education.

    The Yates Scholarship is distributed by NACS in honor of the late Jim Yates, founder of E-Z Mart Stores Inc. and a past chairman of the board of NACS who died in a plane crash in December 1998. The program was established in 1999.

    Each scholarship winner receives $3,000 for costs of career education -- community college or a four-year college -- and complimentary registration and travel to the NACS Show 2006, which will take place October 8-11 in Las Vegas

    The 2006 winners are:

    Catalina (Cathy) Cavazos
    Cavazos, district manager, financial services, at Texas Star Investments Inc. in Corpus Christi, Texas, has been with the company for seven years. She's in her third year at Del Mar College, majoring in business administration. Cavazos also was a 2004 and 2005 recipient of the Yates Scholarship. Julie Wright, Texas Star Investments' controller, said Cavazos' "level of dedication demonstrates her persistence to make a better life for her and those around her, recognizing that an education is the means to achieve it."

    Carol Churchill
    Churchill works in the accounts payable department for Sullivan Oil Company in Baton Rouge, La., and is in her final year at Louisiana State University where she will earn a degree in business management. Churchill hopes to continue to grow within the industry after finishing her degree. Sullivan Oil Company Controller Anne Virgets said of Churchill, who has worked in the convenience store industry for 16 years: "All of us have busy lives, and it takes someone with an unusual amount of strength and willpower to devote a good chunk of their limited free time to completing an education." Churchill also was a 2005 recipient of the Yates Scholarship Award.

    Tina Dietz
    Dietz is a shift leader for Crosby Marts, located in Bradford, Pa. and has worked with the retailer for almost a year. She is entering her senior year at the University of Pittsburgh-Bradford and is majoring in business management. Dietz's supervisor Bobby Burns said, "Tina has the potential to accomplish anything that she sets out to do and has proven that many times during her time with our organization."

    Ed Evans
    Evans is the price book manager for QuikTrip in Tulsa, Okla. Twenty years ago, Evans began his career with QuikTrip as a stocking clerk. "Ed lives QuikTrip's core values," said Susan Hunt, the chain's assistant controller. Evans is entering his sophomore year at Northeastern State in Oklahoma, pursuing a degree in accounting.

    Vicki Harris
    Harris works as an assistant manager for Grace Energy Corporation/Fastrip in Springfield, Mo. In her third year at Missouri State University, Harris is pursuing a degree in human resource management. "Vicki has shown that she has what it takes to become a great leader," said her supervisor, Rusty Teter. Harris' goal is to earn a master's degree in business. Harris also was a 2005 recipient of the Yates Scholarship Award.

    Eric Hoeft
    Hoeft is a team leader at Bobby and Steve's Auto World in Minneapolis, Minn., and has been with the company for three years. In June, he was given the responsibility of opening a new branch and is seen as the "heart of the new location." Hoeft attends the University of Minnesota Twin Cities full-time and majors in political science. His supervisor, Jared Scott Scheeler, applauded "his commitment to being the best, his willingness to work hard, and his desire to make a difference." Hoeft also was a 2005 recipient of the Yates Scholarship Award.

    Gail Ladd
    Ladd is the operations training manager for General Equities (dba Foodbag) in Colchester, Conn. After 21 years with the company, she decided to continue her education at Three Rivers Community College by studying business. In 1999, she was awarded the company's highest award, Manager of the Year. District Manager Bruce Rose said, "Gail's store runs like a top because of her managerial style." Ladd also runs a disc-jockey entertainment company and was a 2005 recipient of the Yates Scholarship Award.

    Elisa Maggio
    Maggio has been with Lone Star Food Stores, operated by Sherman, Texas-based Douglass Distributing, for two years. She currently works as a cashier, clerk and sandwich artist. "Elisa remains calm, focused and unruffled. Others look to her for guidance. I predict a successful future for Elisa," said store manager Debbie White. Maggio is entering her sophomore year at the Art Institute of Dallas as an interior design major.

    Brenda Rohn
    Rohn is a manager for Gas America Services Inc. in Kokomo, Ind., and has been with the company for 18 years. She is entering her sophomore year at Ivy Tech-Indiana University-Kokomo and majoring in business and accounting. When she graduates, she hopes to move into the corporate office and further her career with Gas America. "Overcoming her anxieties about returning to school after so many years shows a lot of character and I know it will help her to advance within retail or the home office," said company president Stephanie White.

    James (Jim) Wisniewski
    Wisniewski is a customer service leader with Wawa Inc. He is in his second year at Rider University, majoring in business management. Spencer Robertson, Wawa's general manager, calls Wisniewski the "best employee he has ever had the chance to manage." Wisniewski also was a 2005 recipient of the Yates Scholarship Award.

    "NACS is pleased to be able to award scholarships to truly outstanding individuals who are working hard to achieve excellence in retailing while persistently pursuing their education," said Jay Ricker, Ricker Oil Co. president and administrator for the Convenience Store Foundation for Education and Research, which oversees the Yates Scholarship Program.

    "Many leaders of our industry started at the store level. The Yates Scholarship gives opportunities to exceptional convenience store employees who might not otherwise have seen this level of education in their future. It's wonderful to see that the winners are people of all ages and backgrounds. I'm very proud to be a part of this wonderful program," added Erin Mitchell, Yates Scholarship program administrator.

    To qualify for the scholarships, applicants had to be employed and nominated by a convenience store company that is a NACS member. Almost 50 nominations were received for the 2006 scholarship program.

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