Grantee Spotlight: One Teen's Unlikely Dream Comes True

For most of her youth, Shelby Jacquier of Canaan, Conn. felt that her dream of becoming a nurse or doctor was out of reach. She was raised to be a fourth-generation dairy farmer, and at age five was diagnosed with a severe learning disability that affects her capacity to read and write. Shelby assumed that after high school she would continue her family’s proud tradition of working on the farm full-time. 

Considering herself a long shot, Shelby decided to fill out an application for 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. In May, Shelby was named the fifth Derwin scholar, and has earned a grant of $100,000 to attend the four-year, U.S. college or university of her choice, and $5,000 to travel abroad for a summer community service program.

Shelby was selected from a field of 12 applicants for her leadership as the student-elected president of FFA, an agricultural youth leadership program; her perseverance in her studies; and her community service. Her dream of becoming a nurse, and ultimately, a surgeon, is now within reach.

“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.”

Shelby 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 scholarship 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 2010.

Berkshire Taconic awarded over 200 scholarships in 2015, including multi-year and renewal scholarships for current college students who are continuing to excel. One such student, Judah Piepho (pictured right), is a McLaughlin-Wilson Fund scholar at Georgetown University. He reports that college has exceeded his expectations. He has earned the respect of his professors for his discipline and commitment, and made new friends from around the country and abroad. 

Scholarships to students like Shelby and Judah, which totaled over $445,000 this year, are made possible by generous donors who believe that higher education is one of the surest paths to increased opportunity. 

Click here to view a full list of 2015 scholarship recipients.