Press Release: In Fifth Year, Margaret Derwin Scholarship Hits Half-Million Mark with $105K Grant to Shelby Jacquier

Sheffield, Mass. — Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation announced today that Shelby Jacquier of Canaan, Conn., is the fifth recipient of the Margaret Derwin “Blue Sky” Scholarship, a fund of Berkshire Taconic named in memory of a beloved 2005 graduate of Housatonic Valley Regional High School. Jacquier, currently a junior at the school, will receive as much as $25,000 annually toward tuition and other costs to attend the four-year, U.S. college or university of her choice, and up to $5,000 for an overseas community service program this summer. Since its 2010 inception, the fund has awarded over $500,000 in scholarships.

Jacquier was selected from a field of 12 applicants for her leadership as the student-elected president of FFA, an agricultural youth leadership program; her passion for horses; and her dream of becoming a nurse, and ultimately, a surgeon.

“All I ever wanted to do was help other people,” Jacquier wrote in her application. “While my farm and my horses mean the world to me, I have a deep appreciation for nursing and want to give back to those in need.”

At age five, Jacquier was diagnosed with a severe learning disability that affects her capacity to read and write, making language and literature courses difficult for her. While her peers choose electives to fill out their schedules, Jacquier’s is packed with extra support and special education classes to help her stay on track. She says that while her grade point average “is not perfect,” she works as hard as she can to achieve her personal goals. In 2012, she reached one of those goals when she made the honor roll for the first time.

“In almost thirty years of teaching, I have never encountered a student quite like Shelby,” wrote Karen Davenport, Jacquier’s agricultural education teacher and FFA advisor, in a letter of recommendation. “She has grown into a young lady who is very comfortable in her skin, as well as totally aware of the ways in which she learns best. I know that it has never been easy for Shelby in school, but she has owned her learning in a mature and responsible way. Instead of giving up, she puts her head down and pushes through.”

Jacquier's grit and determination may come from her work as a fourth-generation dairy farmer in East Canaan. Together with her father, Robert Jacquier, her grandfather, uncle and four siblings, she tends to 2,400 cows, operates tractors and other machinery to cut grass and chop up feed, and takes care of her horses.

A self-described “farm girl at heart,” Jacquier will be the first person in her family to attend college and hopes to earn a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing She credits her mother, Heidi Reineke-Kelsey of Canaan, for continuous support and for instilling in her a strong desire to help others.

Jacquier is the fifth Derwin scholar, following Emily Sullivan of Salisbury; Cristian Umana and John Becket Harney of Lakeville; and Alexa Curtiss of Sharon. Margaret Derwin, who grew up in North Canaan, was passionate about social work and paid for her education at Boston’s Wheelock College with scholarships and other private support. Having earned her bachelor’s degree, she had planned to continue on to graduate school but was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a malignant bone cancer that claimed her life in November 2010.

Derwin’s quest for higher education and her pursuit of a life of great purpose inspired a group of Northwest Corner residents, who pulled together resources to create the Margaret Derwin “Blue Sky” Scholarship. This annual award supports a Housatonic junior who, like Margaret Derwin, demonstrates a commitment to achieving his or her dreams.

“It makes me extremely proud that people see me embodying Margaret Derwin and that I can keep her spirit alive,” says Jacquier. “It’s a huge honor.”

For more information about the fund, contact Jill Cancellieri, Director of Philanthropic Services, at jcancellieri@berkshiretaconic.org or 413.229.0370 x103.






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