For DonorsFor Applicants

John D. Sherman Scholarship

1 winner$4,000
Application Deadline
Apr 1, 2023
Winners Announced
May 1, 2023
Education Level
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Financial Status:
Diagnosed with MS or a physical disability

John Sherman lived in Vermont most of his life from childhood and was proud to return back to Vermont to settle and succeed.

John was able to pursue education across the world, attending high school in England in the 1970’s and then returning back to the US to study Business with a Minor in Film studies at both Johnson State College and the University of Vermont. 

John began his career as a financial advisor, where he believed the greatest challenge and pursuit was to help people get where they needed to go. His single greatest achievement was to see it through to the end, until pancreatic cancer forced him to retire in 2021. 

John married the love of his life in 2009, which amplified his commitments to his family, friends, and his community. A year later, he was diagnosed with Progressive Relapsing MS, but he never lost his positive outlook on life and his conviction to live life to the fullest. He fought both MS and Pancreatic cancer, which earned him the moniker “Sherman Tank”. 

His warm spirit, kindness, courage and gratitude left a lasting impact on everyone that knew him.

This scholarship aims to honor the legacy of John D. Sherman by supporting low-income or students with financial instability who live in Vermont and have MS or other disabilities. 

To apply, tell us how you have persevered through your disability or other obstacles to get to this point in your education for the pursuit of your goals and interests that you are passionate about.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Need, Boldest Profile
Published October 11, 2022
Essay Topic

Using your creativity and an upbeat spirit, please tell us how you have demonstrated perseverance through your disability or other hardships in order to get to this point in your education.

400–600 words

Winning Application

Nicholas Bishop
University of ConnecticutReading, VT
"Just keep swimming, just keep swimming..." Who would have thought that someone could find inspiration in a fish? Hi, I’m Nick Bishop, and even though I don’t particularly enjoy swimming, this mantra is what got me through some very hard times. I was born with a congenital abnormality known as clubfoot. Corrections were attempted immediately after my birth, but it is a stubborn defect. As long as I can remember, I experienced frustration and exclusion because I wasn’t “normal” and couldn’t keep up or even stay upright half of the time. I always had a bulky cast or brace showcasing my disability. So we’d sing, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming”, and I’d try again. Those minor frustrations paled once I started school. Initially, it was quiet exclusion or being picked last for a game. Whispers behind my back grew to name-calling to my face. The teasing and bullying escalated, and I’d pretend to be sick to avoid going to school. Then I didn’t have to pretend anymore, because I was genuinely sick due to the anxiety and fear of facing my bullies every day. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. At the insistence of my father, I joined my first athletic team in third grade. The feeling of inclusion was immediate. I discovered a sense of belonging and purpose that I hadn’t found elsewhere. I could connect with peers who had similar interests and experiences. Throughout elementary school, the various teams I joined all helped to build my self-esteem and self-confidence as we learned to work together. Team training activities helped to improve my physical fitness, strength, and endurance, and also helped to reduce pain and increase balance and flexibility. I was able to finally spend less time in the hospital and at physical therapy and more time on the field. Lacrosse became my preferred sport and allowed me to learn new skills and develop new abilities. Mostly, being on a team forced me to challenge my limitations and push beyond what I thought was possible. Then I entered middle school. Middle school bullies are brutal. Words became shoves and tripping, laughing and pointing. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. I realized I truly enjoyed proving them wrong and pushed myself even harder to excel both on and off the field. I shifted my thinking, and obstacles became opportunities. While the teasing and bullying about my much-improved but still noticeable disability didn’t vanish when I reached high school, thankfully I had a trusted support system in place by then. I learned how to advocate for myself and others. Facing challenges and differences in my own life helped me to become more empathetic and understanding toward others. I used my experiences to promote understanding and acceptance and educate people on empathy and inclusivity. I became a Student Activist and founded a club to improve student safety in our high school. I became a Teacher’s Assistant during school hours and a student mentor after school hours, to help struggling students understand the curriculum and achieve academic success. I enrolled in Advanced Placement classes, was inducted into the National Honor Society, and graduated high school Summa Cum Laude. I am happy to say that I no longer have bullies. My “just keep swimming” mantra stays with me, however, as I persist through new challenges, such as financing my college education. Though I am fortunate to have had some assistance from my parents, as I head into my senior year of college I am now responsible. I would be extremely grateful to have your support.
Brook Hodgeman
Saint Michael's CollegeSaint Albans City, VT
Hello, my name is Brook Hodgeman and I was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 10. At the time, I had hundreds of uncontrolled mini seizures a day which eventually turned into grand mal seizures. Although a surprise to my parents at the time, the diagnosis made sense as I struggled to meet age-appropriate milestones. My diagnosis is officially Juvenile Absence Epilepsy which is considered a lifelong genetic condition. I am fortunate to be under the care of Dr. Greg Holmes at the University of Vermont Medical Center. And although I suffered for years with the consequences of uncontrolled seizures and the heavy effects of medications we found the right balance of medicine, diet and exercise to manage my disorder; I am determined that adversity is not a defining factor in life; adversity, rather, can give one strength, motivation, and purpose. After participating in a Yale University study on genetic idiopathic epilepsy, I knew I would one day become a neurologist or researcher. However, that was a far-off goal. Audrey Butler from the Vermont Epilepsy Foundation led the way; she selected me to represent Vermont at Teens Speak Up, a convention of 50 students from across the nation living with epilepsy. Together, we lobbied Washington legislators to support the National Institute of Health by doubling the financial support of the BRAIN Initiative. While at Teens Speak Up, I learned many people with epilepsy are discouraged from participating in sports. Not surprisingly, young people living with epilepsy are more likely than their siblings to be diagnosed with clinical depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions. Wanting to increase wellness opportunities for people living with epilepsy, I teamed up with a fellow high school physics student to design and build an epilepsy restraint belt for chairlifts. This project was especially meaningful to me as I have seen firsthand (Junior Ski Patrol) how individuals with disabilities are often precluded from participation in sports. Although the project never materialized past our first prototype in the classroom, now as a physics major and future researcher, I hope to use science to create access for all. In addition to my journey with epilepsy, my childhood girlfriend and partner was diagnosed with aggressive pediatric multiple sclerosis last April on her 18th birthday. In a lot of ways, my road to managing epilepsy has helped me to have hope that we will find a way.......Through diet, exercise and advocating for medications that are not always approved by insurance, I am proud to say that my girlfriend is thriving and now going into her second year at Middlebury College. Additional details about me: *Senior at St. Michael's College. 4.0 Average in physics and minoring in math/biology. Currently completing all premed curriculum. * Worked with the Epilepsy Foundation of Vermont to create a PSA to help give hope to youth and children newly diagnosed with Epilepsy: *Worked with Athletes vs Epilepsy to spearhead an awareness and fundraising event at one of the largest Nordic Ski Race in New England which I called Ski4Epilepsy - 2019. *CURE Scholar and awareness interview 2019. *Currently completing my junior year internship in computational physics. *Calculus and physics tutor at St. Michael's College. -Especially find satisfaction helping those living with disabilities and believe they deserve the best instruction! Although I am fortunate to have been raised in a double-income family and had the good fortune of my mother as a school counselor, I am 21 years old now and financially independent of my parents. Please help me in my pursuit of completing my degree (senior year) and applying for a PHD or MD.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Apr 1, 2023. Winners will be announced on May 1, 2023.

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