Caitlyn McCaslin wins the 2016 SDFM scholarship

Dorchester Banner/Susan M. Bautz Caitlyn McCaslin, winner of the 2016 South Dorchester Heritage Museum scholarship.

Dorchester Banner/Susan M. Bautz
Caitlyn McCaslin, winner of the 2016 South Dorchester Heritage Museum scholarship.

CAMBRIDGE — The South Dorchester Folk Museum (SDFM) is more than a collection of documents and stories from the southern part of this large, heart-shaped county. It is a living, breathing example of what folks can do when they decide to honor their heritage.

This year marks the third time the organization has awarded a scholarship to a graduate of Cambridge-South Dorchester High School. The winner of the 3rd annual $1,000 scholarship is Taylors Island resident Caitlyn McCaslin. The daughter of Charles and Bonnie McCaslin, Caitlyn is an impressive young woman who balances a heavy academic schedule with extracurricular and volunteer activities, a job, and sports.

Head of the scholarship award program, Mary Beth Adams, explains “the first criterion for an applicant is to reside in the South Dorchester School District as defined by the Dorchester County Board of Education” and attend local schools.

“Each applicant must submit a packet of information about themselves which includes: A transcript with a Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 3.5; lists of extra extracurricular activities, memberships in organizations and clubs, school and community volunteer experiences, any leadership experiences, and lists of awards; a letter of recommendation; responses to questions asking them to state their career goal and why they have chosen it, and in a paragraph to discuss the actions they plan to take to achieve their goal.”

Ms. Adams noted, “We’re also very interested in community involvement.” Coping with cancer as a survivor of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) is one basis for this winner’s passion for helping others achieve their goals through learning and health. Caitlyn is currently completing all first year classes at Salisbury University before deciding whether to pursue a teaching career or one in medicine.

The first two winners were Michael Geleta and Cierra Robinson. Michael is a Salisbury University student who impressed the SDFM judges with a well crafted essay in which he stated his desire to help others and to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. When Michael entered Salisbury U. he intended to major in political science as a firm believer in community involvement because, in his words, “One person can make a difference in the lives of many.”

As a senior high student Cierra completed dual enrollment in a Chesapeake College course plus a cosmetology program at the county’s Career and Technology Center. She passed all cosmetology requirements, is state certified, and works in a salon while finishing her first year at Chesapeake College with a concentration in Human Services and Mental Health Counseling. She hopes to transfer to a 4 year college after Chesapeake.

A three member panel of judges selects the winner. Mary Beth Adams chairs the Scholarship Committee with fellow trustees Dr. Phillip Hesser and Lynne Mills. Dr. Hesser is a professor at Salisbury University and Wor-Wic; Ms. Adams is a retired supervisor from the Dorchester County Board of Education; and, Ms. Mills is in banking and an expert in South Dorchester genealogy.

The SDFM views the scholarship award as one of its most noteworthy activities. Ms. Adams says, “It is a difficult task, as we get a variety of competitive applications from deserving students.” She gives special thanks and credit to Seniors’ counselor Cynthia Collins, considered an integral part of the process, “for her help in the dissemination and collection of materials to qualified students, and for her support to those students who applied.”

Ms. Adams is passionate about her role in implementing the scholarship program. She says, “Interacting with these delightful young people gives one a high, for they represent the values of conscience and caring with indomitable spirits. And being from South Dorchester (Crapo), I’d like to think that these young people truly represent that South Dorchester spirit.”

Susan Bautz is a freelance writer for the Dorchester Banner.

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