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 The Sarah Shay and Michael Donta Memorial Scholarship for Hope and Healing

Michael Donta Sarah Shay

The Sarah Shay and Michael Donta Memorial Scholarships were created to help Kentucky students who have excelled in their personal and academic lives despite seeing firsthand the devastating consequences of prescription drug abuse. These students have embraced a positive lifestyle and a brighter future for themselves and their families.

The scholarships are in memory of two young victims of the prescription drug abuse epidemic in Kentucky. Nineteen-year-old Sarah Shay of Morehead died of prescription drug overdose in 2006. Michael Donta of Ashland lost his lengthy battle with prescription painkiller abuse in 2010. He was 24-years-old. Sarah and Michael's parents, Dr. Karen Shay and Mike Donta, now travel with Attorney General Conway to help warn middle and high school students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse through General Conway's statewide Keep Kentucky Kids Safe awareness program.

The Office of the Attorney General and Prosecutors Advisory Council (PAC) are able to offer these scholarships thanks to the generosity of the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI) and private donations.


Donate now!

People can now make online, tax-deductible donations​ to the scholarship fund. “I hope you will consider making a tax-deductible donation to our scholarship fund created in honor of Sarah and Michael,” Attorney General Conway said. “The toll that prescription painkiller abuse has taken on Kentucky families is alarming, and your contribution will go a long way toward expanding and maintaining a scholarship program that is providing strong, determined teens across the Commonwealth a chance at a college education and a brighter future.”

Scholarship Application Details

  • One “Sarah Shay Memorial Scholarship” and one “Michael Donta Memorial Scholarship” will be awarded each year to graduating high school female and male, who meet the scholarship criteria, to put toward post-secondary education expenses.
  • The scholarships will be awarded on a one-time basis each spring.
  • Recipients are announced by the Office of the Attorney General, in conjunction with PAC and NADDI.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Completed and signed application fo​rm​.
  • Typed essay detailing how prescription drug abuse has touched your life
  • GPA of 2.75
  • Two letters of recommendation: one from a school employee and one from a community member, who is not a family member.
  • Copy of high school transcript.
  • Must plan to attend a public/private non-profit university/college, and or technical college, within the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Selection Process

A Committee consisting of representatives from the Office of the Attorney General, PAC and NADDI will join concerned parents, Dr. Karen Shay and Michael Donta, to review applications and determine scholarship recipients.

The scholarships will be awarded based on:

  • Eligibility
  • Essay
  • GPA
  • Letters of Recommendations
  • Community Service, Volunteer Work

Conditions for Initial Funding of Scholarship

No scholarship money will be paid until proof of full-time student enrollment in a non-profit postsecondary educational institution that is either a public/private college or university, and or technical college based in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Funding for the Scholarship / How the Scholarship is Paid

  • Funding for the scholarships is provided by the (NADDI) and private donations.
  • The Office of the Attorney General and/or PAC will oversee management and distribution of the scholarship funds.
  • Scholarship money will be paid directly to the recipients' schools.

2015 Recipients

Congratulations to Sydney Fryman and Lennon Reed, recipients of the Sarah Shay and Michael Donta Memorial Scholarships for 2015.

Sydney Fryman and Lennon Reed


2014 Recipients

Congratulations to Kimberly Barrett and Josh Hollan, recipients of the Sarah Shay and Michael Donta Memorial Scholarships for 2014.

L-R: Dr. Karen Shay, Kimberly Barrett, Attorney General Conway, Josh Hollan, Mike DontaL-R: Josh Hollan, Attorney General Conway, and Kimberly Barrett

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