Every year the board of the Mountain Findings Thrift Store disburses its proceeds to area nonprofits including the Town of Highlands Scholarship Fund whose total is disbursed among annual graduates.
However, this year, in addition to giving $8,000 to the town’s scholarship fund, the board decided it wanted to “step out of the box a bit by doing something in a big lifechanging way not just a one-time only thing,” said Board Member Edith Pendleton.
So, for the first time $40,000 was awarded Highlands School Class of 2021 graduate, Abigail Nichols, who will be attending UNC-Charlotte to study Elementary Education.
“I am super thankful, and I wasn’t expecting something this big,” she said.
Nichols has been saving for college by working two jobs and babysitting and said this scholarship will make a world of difference for her.
To continue receiving the scholarship in subsequent years, Nichols has to send her grades to the Mountain Findings Board to show she is in good academic standing each year.
Applicants were filtered through the Highlands School Guidance and Scholarship Committee. Part of the application process included an essay that propelled Nichols to the top.
Pictured at the top of the article from left are Mountain Findings Board members with scholarship recipient Abigail Nichols and her parents: Suzy Jackson, Keith Crawford; Barbara, Abigail and Todd Nichols; Helen Moore and Glenda Bell.
Looking back over your high school years, what are some of the things you did that make you feel good about yourself, things you may have done to overcome, and what are some of the things you would do differently?
“Looking back over my high school years, it has not always been easy. I’ve struggled greatly with self-image, conﬁdence, and self-identity. I’ve often put on a face in front of my friends and family in hopes of making them proud of me. Over the past year, I have found ways that have helped me deal with negative thoughts and emotions that have led me to a healthier place.
“To serve others, I have enjoyed going on mission trips over the last four years with my church. I love the idea of being able to help others who are in need. Also, I have a passion for horses and enjoy riding and training them. While my friends enjoyed playing sports in high school, I enjoyed being at the stables. I was able to form a deeper connection with not only horses but also with nature.
“One of my favorite things to do is workout. Since the beginning of last summer, I’ve lost 35 pounds. This has greatly encouraged me and made me want to be the best I can be. Through working out, I have been able to push aside negative thoughts and emotions in times of stress. I love the idea of working hard for something I want. I want to be physically and mentally strong. I will continue to further my love for working out and use it to encourage others.
“Looking back, I wish I would have cherished more the time with my friends and family. Since the beginning of my senior year, I’ve worked two jobs, babysat on the weekends, and attended school. There’s not much time to sit down and relax when you have to make money for college. I am thankful for the time spent in high school, but I am extremely excited about college.”
Pendleton said Mountain Findings still intends to donate to the Town of Highlands Scholarship Fund each year, but this new scholarship will stand on its own as long as Mountain Findings has the funds to do so.
Article and photo by Kim Lewicki, Highlands Newspaper