Rachel Hawkinson, like most high school seniors, is in the process of applying to colleges. She has applications in with Fordham University in New York, Santa Clara University in California and Catholic University in Washington, D.C.

Unlike a lot of other students, Hawkinson recently learned she will have a bit of financial help to consider when deciding which university to attend.

The Cumberland resident is the second Cheverus High School senior to receive the Ahern Scholarship, offering her $40,000 toward the university of her choice.

“College is very expensive and it will help tremendously with those expenses,” she said.

The scholarship is funded by a gift from the estate of Leonard F. Ahern, a 1940 graduate of Cheverus. With its first award distributed last year, the scholarship will be given out annually to a Cheverus senior.

Cheverus High School Vice President Brian Dudley said 42 seniors applied for this year’s scholarship, and the list was narrowed to five finalists. Each student was asked to write a short essay related to one or all five of the school’s graduation tenets — loving, religious, open to growth, committed to social justice and intellectually competent.

“All five (applicants) were incredible,” Dudley said. “We were very impressed with all of them. Rachel came across as the strongest of the candidates with her commitment to community activities.”

As a member of the school’s Key Club since her freshman year, Hawkinson wrote about her experience last fall delivering Thanksgiving dinners to families in need.

“The model of Cheverus is people for others and the Key Club is the epitome of that,” she said.

When delivering a box to a woman in Greater Portland, Hawkinson said she got a look at how other people live.

“We put the box on her table, and she had very little,” she said, and the woman put her hand on Hawkinson’s arm and thanked her.

“It was the first time I truly believed in God,” Hawkinson said.

In addition to Key Club, Hawkinson has academic honors, worked as an administrative assistant in an orthodontic office and has given private guitar lessons, as well as volunteered her time to catalogue thousands of books in the school’s library.

While she has not decided which school to attend, Hawkinson has a clear vision for her future.

“I would really like to pursue a career that combines both education and social work,” she said.


Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

[email protected]