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“I have always been self-motivated, working as hard as possible and fulfilling every task to the best of my ability.”
Highlights of Young Scholar Experience: Sharleen Phillips said it is “hard to pinpoint” in just a few words how the program has changed her life. All the programs helped her, but the Young Writer’s Workshop in New England during the 2009 summer break is high on her list. “My writing improved immensely as a result of that program and I was able to grow as a writer and find my own voice.” Beyond the classroom and the workshops, she said that through the Young Scholar program she forged long-lasting friendships and bonds with both fellow Scholars and Foundation staff.
Profile: Sharleen, who grew up near the Jersey shore, said her life changed dramatically when she attended her first Center for Talented Youth summer program. “For three fabulous weeks, I was surrounded by a wonderful group of dorky yet very friendly teenagers,” she recalled, adding, “I was finally among my peers.” Sharleen is inquisitive and anxious to learn. When Sharleen is in class, teachers and fellow students need to be on their toes, because by her mere presence and contagious personality and enthusiasm, not a second will be wasted. “In the classroom I’m usually the first to ask a question or attempt an answer. I succeed academically because I am motivated to acquire knowledge and understand as much as I can about the world around me.” For Sharleen, the learning process is constant. “I am never content—I always reach for the next challenge, the next opportunity. I proudly live by the motto ‘Impossible is nothing,’ which has provided me with great sustenance throughout my life.”
Inspiration: The Amherst College-bound student said she’s “lucky enough to have been taught by a myriad of excellent teachers.” But Sharleen’s biggest educational influence was her AP US History teacher, Kevin Cohen. “His passion for history was delightfully infectious and I looked forward to his class everyday. He supported all of his students and challenged us to succeed as scholars of history. I learned a tremendous amount in his class and cultivated a passion for history, government, and writing.”
Aspiration: It is Sharleen’s goal to attend law school. “I have big dreams of becoming a US Supreme Court Justice or a diplomat or something I have yet to even discover.”
Making a Difference: Service to others is a big part of Sharleen’s life. She volunteers at the Toms River Library each summer and within various elementary schools in that community. She is also involved in the American Cancer Society “Relay For Life” and helped co-found a team, “Shore Cure”, which raises thousands of dollars annually and spreads awareness about the fight against cancer and the preservation of hope.
Accolades: In December of 2009, the State of New Jersey named Sharleen the Edward J. Bloustein Distinguished Scholar and the same month a local radio station awarded her a scholarship as its “Student of the Week.” Sharleen is also a National Merit Finalist, an AP Scholar as designated by the College Board, and was recognized by the Society of Women Engineers for her superior grades in science and mathematics.
Interesting fact: She’s proud to say that she always has been a “nerd.” While most of her friends “dream about spending their weekends at shopping malls, I harbor dreams of seeing the world.”
University of Tampa
Berklee College of Music
Undergraduate Transfer Scholar
University of Washington