By Camie Strojny, contributing writer
The Nantucket Golf Club Foundation (NGCF) offers a scholarship each year, which is now in its fifteenth consecutive year, providing full tuition and fees for the two selected winners to any four-year college of the scholars’ choice. The Nantucket Golf Scholarship requires a nine month-long interview process, with different phases progressing throughout the year. The potential scholars have unique qualities about themselves and are well-involved in the Nantucket community. The NGCF website states, “The Nantucket Scholar can be anyone with the determination and drive to succeed academically, be socially conscientious and a leader among their peers.” This specific scholarship holds a great purpose within Nantucket and the community is more than grateful by the efforts put in from the NGCF.
The normal process to determine the Nantucket Scholars looked a little different due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Normally, the potential scholars give presentations and are interviewed in person, but because of COVID-19, the scholarship board conducted them via Zoom as an alternative. The Nantucket Golf Scholarship Board this year consisted of important community members: Thomas Bresette, Kate Hickson, Michael Cozort, Alan Cunha, Courtney Foster, John Buckey, Casey Perkins, and Susan McFarland. Thomas Bresette, Executive Director of the Foundation, mentioned how the final presentation might continue to be on phones to represent the finalists’ creativity. In recent years, the potential scholars have had a final dinner together, which NHS Principal Dr. Buckey shares “has always been a highlight of the process.” Considering things varied at the ending of the process this year, the traditional ceremony to announce the scholars at the Nantucket Golf Club also had to be revised due to the current situation in hand. The Nantucket Community Television, NCTV, partnered with the Nantucket Golf Club to do the announcement virtually through Zoom to showcase the ceremony, and streamed it so the Nantucket community could watch in real time. Tom Bresette gifted each finalist a gift bag at each individual’s house to show his gratitude for their participation and determination throughout the nine-month long interview process.
The Top 12 Finalists of the Nantucket Golf Club Scholarship of 2020 consisted of Luly Day, Anjali Dhar, Victoria Dixon, Anita Dougan, Tessa Dougan, Freyja Feeney, Matthew Giachetti, Skylar Kardell, Brianna Leveille, Joel MacVicar, Phaedra Plank, and Alecsander Vollans. After NHS Principal Dr. Buckey delivered a speech for each potential scholar regarding their extracurriculars, where and in what ways they have involved themselves in the Nantucket Community, how academically strong each participant is, and their plans for the future, Tom Bresette delivered his gratitude to everyone who has contributed to keep this scholarship running strong. Mr. Bresette gave a biography of the 2020 Nantucket Golf Scholars, “The Nantucket Scholar is a student who established a pattern of academic and personal success at the Nantucket High School. Personal attributes reflect strength of character, which includes honesty, integrity, maturity, and responsibility. The Nantucket Scholar demonstrates outstanding citizenship, annihilated by a cooperative attitude, spirit of adventure and enthusiastic effort. This student is a positive influence on school peers, is involved in varied extracurricular activities…”
The Nantucket Golf Scholars of 2020 were soon announced to be Brianna Leveille and Phaedra Plank. Leveille puts that moment into perspective, “When I heard my name, I can promise you I was in pure shock. Never in a million years did I think it would be me, I wasn’t even rooting for myself. It was intense, my parents were ecstatic and I couldn’t even process what was going on and I just started to cry, it was one of the best days.”
Plank reflects that moment as well, “I was definitely in shock the moment my name was announced. I think my mother summed up the feeling well when she jokingly asked me, ‘Wait, is your name Phaedra? Did we name you Phaedra?’ It truly feels like a dreamlike experience, especially because I had imagined that moment with different outcomes several times before in order to steel myself for potential disappointment. Of course, besides the disbelief, I also felt a great amount of happiness and gratitude for my teachers, peers, and community, but also felt a degree of guilt knowing first hand the brilliance and talent of my competitors.”
Leveille and Plank both share that the scholarship has given them a good start for their future on the right foot, without the worry of funding for the colleges. They both plan to continue to give back to the community with a better education, which they can now pursue for certain.
Dr. Buckey sums up the experience perfectly, “It is so life changing for the participants. It is something very special about Nantucket.” The Nantucket Golf Club Foundation has provided many determined, bright Nantucket High School students a better, guaranteed future within their education through the scholarship, the Foundation has ultimately fulfilled the lives of many and will continue to do so.