By Sarah Hanlon, with additional reporting by editor in chief JohnCarl McGrady
The Nantucket Golf Club Foundation (NGCF) has narrowed the field to 10 finalists selected from amongst the 34 senior class applicants hoping to be awarded the prestigiousprestigous NCGF scholarship, given annually to two high school seniors that have shown immense levels of dedication to their studies and extracurricular activities, and who have overall made a positive impact to our island’s community. These finalists are Kameilia “Kamoy” Barnett, Waverly Brannigan, Reese Burns, Maisie Cocker, Bella Cutone, Ruby Dupont, Katie Genthner, JohnCarl McGrady, Brian Nolasco Ramirez and Cameron “Camie” Strojny.
Since 2002, when the Nantucket Golf Club Foundation was founded by the Nantucket Golf Club Board of Directors, the foundation has been working with youth on Nantucket to try and help them reach their goals for the future. For the past fifteen years, the Nantucket Golf Club Foundation has been providing Nantucket High School seniors with the opportunity to receive a four-year scholarship covering all tuition and fees to any college or university of their choice. According to the Nantucket Golf Club Foundation website, the board of directors believe that in creating this scholarship, “it could be a way to impact generations of Nantucket children while providing inspiration to students seeking the value of higher education.” This year will be the sixteenth consecutive year the foundation has given this opportunity to two high school seniors.
This year, the scholarship review committee includes former Superintendent Michael Cozort, scholarship executor Alan Cunha, Nantucket High School (NHS) guidance counselor Courtney Foster, NHS Spanish teacher Kathleen Hickson, NHS School Nurse Kelsey Perkins, NHS English teacher Elizabeth Reinemo, and High School Principal Mandy Vasil. The committee, as well as NCGF Executive Director and Chief Executor of the Foundation, Thomas Bresette, are working with students in order to make sure COVID-19 guidelines are being met, while also carrying out the scholarship review process. Most of the committee members have served on the review board before, and so they have seen what makes a Nantucket Golf Club scholar. In fact, Kelsey Perkins won the scholarship herself in 2006.
Last year’s winners were Phaedra Plank and Brianna Leville, who ended up attending Wellesley College and University of California Riverside, respectively, and many past winners have also gone on to highly competitive universities.
Students start by completing an application in which they write essays and share the extracurriculars they participate in, their community service, any academic achievements, and recommendation letters. After completing their application, students participate in various activities including one on one interviews and group dinners. However, due to COVID-19, some events have not been possible, and the process has looked a little different. Review committee member Kathleen Hickson shares, “although we always switch-up the questions and activities so they don’t get stale or predictable, this year we really had to get creative. We came up with the Family Feud and the Scavenger-Hunt-meets-Amazing-Race this year.”
The committee members have high hopes for all possible scholars and hope they can go on to accomplish great things later in life. Mandy Vasil, committee member and principal of Nantucket High School remarked that “the Nantucket Golf Club Scholarship is one of the most generous that I have encountered and shows a huge amount of community support for Nantucket graduates. The greatest hope is that recipients of the Nantucket Golf Club Scholarship is that they understand how fortunate they are to have this opportunity and that they are able to fulfill their dream of not attending but finishing college with the degree they desire.”
Dupont shared that “despite being a challenging and rigorous process, there are extremely valuable skills I have learned. With all the struggles and restrictions that COVID-19 has brought this year, the review committee has worked really hard to give us seniors fun and exciting activities to keep the morale high.”
While the NGCF scholarship process has been affected by Covid-19, just as everything else has, the committee and the students have adapted to the changes well, with a year of practice in adapting to Covid-related changes now under their belts. Some changes have included the first interview being moved online, and accommodating the altered school schedule of this pandemic year.
The virtual interview was the first event of the process after applications were submitted, with each student getting the chance to meet with the review committee for ten minutes over Zoom and answer some questions. Then, the review committee held an in-person group event in the Large Group Instruction room (LGI) at NHS, in which the applicants had to be divided into two pools due to coronavirus. Each group had the chance to play a game of a Family Feud with the review committee, with Bresette taking the role of host.
The next event was a scavenger hunt across downtown Nantucket that tested the teamwork and research skills of applicants, who were split into small groups and tasked with finding specific locations and achieving certain tasks as quickly as possible before reuniting at the Nantucket Yacht Club.
After this event, the scholarship review committee had to make its first cuts, picking 23 semi-finalists. The first semi-finalist event was a second round of interviews, these ten minutes long and in-person. Students answered two questions each, about topics such as affordable housing, the two-party system in the United States, and Artificial Intelligence. The next week, the semi-finalists met in the LGI for a forum discussion where local leaders and powerful figures in the Nantucket Community posed a series of questions to the High School students. This panel consisted of Town Manager Libby Gibson, Superintendent Elizabeth Hallett, Nantucket Cottage HospitalHopsital CEO Gary Shaw, School Committee member Tim Leopre, and Nantucket HistoricalHisotircal Association Executive Director James Russell. Some of the members of the panel had been participating for years, but for others, this was a new experience. Russell, Shaw and Hallett all moved to Nantucket within the last three years.
It was after this event that finalists were chosen, and the process moved into itsit’s last stage. The finalist stage began with presentations to faculty in the LGI, and continued with a third round of interviews and a group dinner at the Seagrille. More events are likely to take place before winners are selected on April 27th.
This scholarship is a great opportunity for students at Nantucket High School. Many previous scholars have noted that this process made a significant difference in their lives, and set them up for success later in college. Hickson noted, “While it is obvious that there are two recipients of the 4-year scholarships, all candidates, and to a greater degree, semi-finalists, and finalists, greatly benefit from the process.” For many, this is an experience they will remember for the rest of their lives. The Nantucket Golf Club Foundation has made a huge difference in the lives of many dedicated students, and although only two students receive the 4-year scholarship, the lessons one learns from this whole experience create great individuals bound for success.
Veritas would like to extend a heartfelt and sincere congratulations to all finalists. Specifically, we would like to congratulate Editors in Chief Maisie Cocker and JohnCarl McGrady, Assistant Editor Reese Burns, Sports Editor Camie Strojny, and contributing sports writers Bella Cutone, Waverly Brannigan, and Katie Genthner for being selected as finalists.