2012-07-05 / News

Two college-bound islanders named recipients of Stone Scholarship

Shay Lynn Reilly, Nicole Perez each awarded $2,000

The work of a high-school senior planning to attend college can be daunting. Deadlines for school and scholarship applications pop up throughout the year, often each requiring new forms to be filled out and essays to be written.

But the work pays off. Last month two local seniors were rewarded with more than a sense of accomplishment as Shay Lynn Reilly and Nicole Perez each received a $2,000 award from the Elizabeth Stone Scholarship Fund to use for college expenses.

Reilly, a graduate of the Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center in Newport, applied for the scholarship when she saw it listed in the Jamestown Press. She wrote an essay about why she wanted it, and listed her academic accomplishments, as well as her future plans.

“I wrote about some of the things I’ve done in school,” she said. “I mentioned my attendance record. I mentioned that I’d gotten in to all five of the colleges I applied to.” Reilly has decided to attend the University of Rhode Island in the coming fall where she’ll be studying English and theater.

The decision to attend URI stemmed from interviews Reilly did prior to her senior year of high school, which also connected with a senior project she was doing about theater. “I spoke to the professor in charge of the theater department, and after talking to her I really liked the theater program. I also shadowed a few classes there.”

Though Reilly plans, at least initially, to major in English and minor in theater, she might switch to a double major since both subjects interest her. “I haven’t figured out my career plans yet,” she said, “I’m just pursuing what I like to do.”

Reilly loves reading and writing and has also interned at Courthouse Center for the Arts for the past two years where she has assisted with theater projects. She also took a theater class, as well as six other classes, at the Community College of Rhode Island, where she has already earned 21 credits. She also interned with the performingarts department at Roger Williams University.

“It was a very busy year,” said Reilly, “but I just really liked the work I was doing.”

Nicole Perez was informed about this scholarship through her high-school guidance counselor, and the Elizabeth Stone Scholarship is one of a number that she received.

She applied for – and was the recipient of – the Jeffery Monica Soccer Scholarship, the NKHS Athletic Booster Scholarship, the Jamestown Women’s Club Scholarship, the Leigha Carlisle Scholarship, the Jamestown Teachers’ Association Scholarship, and the Maegan Harpool Determination Award Scholarship.

Perez graduated from North Kingstown High School and will attend Fitchburg State College in Massachusetts this fall. Though she looked into other schools, she only applied to Fitchburg.

“I chose [Fitchburg] because they have one of the best schools for education,” said Perez, who plans to study early childhood special education. “I hope to get a job in a school system as a special education teacher, and hope to further my career by establishing more centers and activities for the special-needs community.”

Perez credits the writing she did about this desire for involvement in the special-needs community for helping her earn the Elizabeth Stone Scholarship.

“I wrote in my essay about my eagerness to achieve a college education in the area of special education, and I went on to describe my passion I have in that area,” said Perez. “I also expanded on what I have done, and continue to do, for my community and how I enjoy giving back to them because they gave so much to me.”

The Elizabeth Stone Scholarship has only been around for three years and has a somewhat cloaked beginning. B.J. Whitehouse is one of three members on the scholarship committee whose job was to look over the applications and decide where the funds would go.

“This is one of the most interesting scholarships,” said Whitehouse. “Ms. Stone, as we understand, was an educator, not in Jamestown, but she lived in Jamestown or had Jamestown connections. An attorney showed up at a meeting one night and said this woman left the School Committee $146,000 or $147,000, and she had set up a scholarship idea and her wishes were very vague. It was for any Jamestown student going on to college with recognition of somebody going onto a college like [Rhode Island School of Design].

Stone’s preference was then interpreted to mean anyone studying the fine arts or design, though none of this year’s applicants had expressed interest in that.

The committee sorted through applications and essays, assigning values with a numbered chart to every section of the application material, which included a cover letter that stated the applicant’s intent.

“When we read through those, both Nicole and Shay Lynn really rose above the others in terms of their writing ability, as well as the case they made.” Whitehouse said. “[They were] well written, clear, and had that spark of ‘I really want to do this.’”

Each year the amount differs and the scholarship committee can award all the money to one individual, or distribute it to amongst multiple awardees if they see fit.

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