Natasha Domeshek Kindness Scholarship Winners Announced
Eight Medfield High School students were recognized for their kindness in memory of Natasha Domeshek who would have been part of this year’s graduating class, and was the inspiration behind the Medfield’s annual Angel Run.
Two Medfield High School seniors – Chelsea Robertson and Joseph Shebertes – have each received a $20,000 scholarship from the Natasha Domeshek Kindness Scholarship in memory of their classmate who died suddenly in 2002 when the students were in third grade.
The remaining six finalists – Sam Horan, Kimberly Knowles, Andrew Ludwig, Georgia Lundberg, Brian McCloud and Michelle Thomas -- each received a $2,000 scholarship in recognition of their kindness.
Natasha’s parents are David and Annie Domeshek of Medfield.
“All eight finalists are fabulous kids, and narrowing down the field to two winners was a very difficult task indeed,” said David Domeshek. “In the end, we were impressed with what we heard about Chelsea's and Joe's long-standing track record, from an early age, of being kind in an every-day, random kind of way. Their kindness struck us as very authentic and innate.”
Shortly after her death, a group of Natasha’s friends started the Angel Run which has since become an annual event that kicks off the holiday season on the first Sunday of each December. The intent was to raise money to support a scholarship in Natasha’s name as well as other charitable organizations.
Over the past 10 years, the Angel Run raised more than $50,000 which was given out this year to the Class of 2012, of which Natasha was a member.
“The Natasha Domeshek Kindness Scholarship came about because we always felt (and others told us) that Natasha was a very kind girl, so this scholarship felt like a fitting tribute,” said Domeshek. “Also, we believe kindness is critically important, but seldom honored in a formal or highly visible way.”
Domeshek said the scholarship selection process was rigorous “albeit highly subjective, since there is no quantitative scale to measure kindness” with 70 nominations received for 52 members of this year’s senior class. Students could not nominate themselves or be nominated by their parents, they had to be nominated by a third party.
The field was then narrowed down to 17 semi-finalists who were then interviewed by the Domesheks “through an extensive series of telephone interviews with the people who nominated those students as well as people who ‘seconded’ the nominations and other references to whom we were directed by the nominators (teachers, coaches, clergy, friends, neighbors -- no family members).”
The Domesheks narrowed the field to eight semi-finalists who were then asked to answer several questions in writing and invited to participate in a private face-to-face interview with an eight-member scholarship selection committee which ultimately decided how to divide the scholarship funds.
Selectman Osler Peterson was a member of the scholarship selection committee.
“It was a very uplifting thing to do to talk to all these students because they were really impressive kids,” said Peterson, who said each committee member was given a notebook full of information about each candidate on which to base their decision. “After I read all eight of them, I thought ‘Gee, they all deserve an award.’”
The committee ultimately decided to award two $20,000 scholarships and six $2,000 scholarships.
“I was amazed by the remarkable things that some of these kids were doing,” he said, noting that one finalist had made a deliberate effort to get to know every one of their classmates. “One of them made a decision at the beginning of the school year that they wanted to have a relationship of some sort with every one of their classmates before the end of the year.”
Peterson commended the Domesheks for creating the Angel Run and the scholarship in honor of their daughter.
“For them to take that difficult loss in their life and turn it into something [the Angel Run] in honor of Natasha (which has been such a success in town), and to create the kindness scholarship in her memory, is just a remarkable achievement.”