Cheverus High School student wins unique scholarship

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PORTLAND — Rachael Haskell, a senior at Cheverus High School, couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity she’s received by being awarded a unique scholarship.

The Lila Grace Sullivan Amirault Scholarship is given to students who can show a true sense of appreciation for receiving a Catholic school education and is also aimed at students from large families who have to work in order to be able to attend college.

“I chose (to apply for this) scholarship because I felt that it spoke to who I was as a Catholic and because writing about my religion helped me to grow in it,” Haskell said this week.

The Amirault Scholarship is managed by the Catholic Foundation of Maine and Haskell is one of two winners in the state.

The scholarship, which provides an award of $4,500, was established in 2013 by Patrick Amirault and was named in honor of his wife.

Amirault was one of nine children from a poor family and “created the fund to show his appreciation for the care and quality education he received at Catholic school,” according to the Catholic Foundation.

Haskell comes from a family of seven. She’s the third child and said by attending Cheverus she gained a second family that includes not only her fellow students, but the school’s faculty and staff, as well.

She called attending Cheverus “a transformative experience,” adding what it means to be “a Cheverian (is to) recognize (the importance of) interdependence and to devote yourself to bettering the world around you.”

“Cheverus has been a welcoming community and (it’s taught me) a desire for justice, especially for those who are suffering,” Haskell said. Last summer, for instance, she took an immersion mission trip to the southern border of the U.S.

That’s where she learned firsthand that “the stories told in the news were (about real) people with faces, personalities and (a sense of) dignity (all their own).”

“I saw the suffering of the world not as something distant that had nothing to do with me, but like it was (me) that was being wounded,” Haskell said.

She hasn’t yet decided what college to attend, but her hope is to study psychology and perhaps become a child therapist. She also has a strong interest in writing and literature.

Her aim overall is to become a true “steward of the gifts that I have been given.” Haskell said she’s “driven by her faith” adding, “I’ve always wanted to do something to help people because that is something really taught in Catholicism.”

Her father teaches at Cheverus and, Haskell said, “I’ve been a Catholic since I was very young. I’ve been attending Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception for as long as I can remember.”

“When I was younger, I (was also) an altar server and I attended Vacation Bible School during the summer. I now like to return to the Bible School program to help as a leader.”

Being a practicing Catholic is one reason Haskell decided to attend Cheverus, but she also likes the fact that the school “yearns not only to develop students intellectually but also as people – spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally.”

Being at Cheverus “truly helped me to find myself” and also helped her to “understand how to utilize (my education) to make it about more than just myself and to give back to those around me.”

In addition to her volunteerism, Haskell is a member of the drama club at Cheverus, as well as the Civil Rights Team, the Spanish club, the Key Club and the National Honor Society.

Winning the Amirault Scholarship “is truly an honor,” Haskell said. “I know that many strong applicants applied, and to be chosen from amongst them feels like a blessing. I am grateful for the opportunity that’s been given to me.”

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

Rachael Haskell is a senior at Cheverus High School in Portland and has received the Lila Grace Sullivan Amirault Scholarship, which is given to those who show a sense of appreciation for receiving a Catholic school education.