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John F. Puffer, Sr. Smile Scholarship

Funded by
1 winner$1,000
In Review
Application Deadline
Jul 10, 2024
Winners Announced
Aug 10, 2024
Education Level
High School
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Education Level:
High school senior
2.8 or higher
Exemplifies S.M.I.L.E.

John F. Puffer, Sr. was an entrepreneur, logger, and business owner who lived in Shutesbury, Massachusetts. 

In addition to being a husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend to many, John was known for his eagerness to help those in his community. John was able to help countless members of his community and positively influenced others with his impressive work ethic and infectious smile. 

This scholarship seeks to honor the life of John F. Puffer, Sr. by supporting students in Massachusetts who exemplify S.M.I.L.E. (shine, motivate, inspire, lead, excel) in their daily lives.   

Any high school senior in MA who is passionate about giving back to their community, has a 2.8 GPA or higher, and exemplifies S.M.I.L.E. may apply for this scholarship. 

To apply, tell us how you’ve excelled in your education and how your actions have affected your ability to leave a legacy on your community and family.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Need, Boldest Profile
Published March 30, 2024
Essay Topic

How you have excelled in your education? How have your actions impacted your ability to leave a legacy on your family and community?

400–600 words

Winning Application

Harrison Bennett
Matignon High SchoolSaugus, MA
Joshua Kellogg
Amherst Regional HighShutesbury, MA
Shaylin Reagan
Mansfield High SchoolMansfield, MA
In my family I am a first generation college student realizing my dream. I consistently excelled in Honors and Advanced Placement courses throughout my tenure at Mansfield High School earning placement in both National Honors Society and Spanish National Honors Society. Throughout my years of schooling, I have worked exceptionally hard to ensure college would be a possibility for me since neither of my parents attended college. I do not mention that disrespectfully. My Dad served honorably in the military and now serves our community as a firefighter and paramedic. My Mom went to beauty school and later earned her real estate license. They both work hard and have afforded me and my little sisters a life better than most. I just knew that my path would lead me to the ivory tower. I am a strong student with a love of learning yet I make sure to focus on important things other than solely school. In addition to my strong academic rigor I spent my spare time committed to many extracurricular, charitable and volunteer activities including: 4 years of Varsity Cheerleading, Best Buddies, Spanish Club, Environmental Club, coaching youth cheerleading and volunteering at various events hosted by the Mansfield Fire Department. I look forward to excelling in the same manner academically in my nursing program at the University of Alabama and becoming similarly involved on campus and in the community. I have put in countless hours of work to make sure I can attend college however, financially it remains a struggle. My Dad is a veteran struggling with documented Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He works hard to manage his everyday life outside of this constant internal battle. My Mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis almost ten years ago. During a time when any “extra” money should have been saved for my college education the priority was on my parents health. They have spent every extra dollar on out-of-pocket medical expenses and treatments so they could continue to provide financially and emotionally for myself and my two younger sisters. This had to be the priority and the expenses are on-going. Gratefully, they will contribute to the best of their ability to my education but due to these medical expenses the cost of attending a university is simply not doable. These unfortunate medical diagnoses had the fortunate effect of developing my desire to pursue a career in the medical field. I’ve been in the situation of having to call 911 or wait in an emergency room more times than I’d wish on anyone. I’ve had 911 dispatchers and medical personnel tell me on multiple occasions that I am destined for a career in the medical field. I think my bedside manner and calm demeanor come from my Dad who worked as a Combat Medic in the War in Afghanistan earning him a bronze star. I have this foundation to work from. I have a deep desire that has developed from my personal experiences and I know it will lead be to success, to be a first generation college graduate and nurse.
Alexzander Santos
Roger Williams UniversityWestport, MA
I was born with a rare and complex congenital heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Having a lengthy and complicated heart bypass procedure exposed my brain to stress and the lack of oxygen is known to hinder brain function. My parents were informed by my surgeons to expect lifelong cognitive delays and impairment. My elementary school years consisted of my many developmental, physical, and educational challenges. I was a special needs student with autism, ADHD, and also required occupational, physical, and speech therapy routinely. I was constantly bullied for wearing a scoliosis brace, apparent speech issues, and inability to perform at grade level. By fourth grade, my parents moved to a new town in hopes that a fresh environment and change of school would turn the tide. This relocation brought a sense of hope and new beginnings. During my first year here, I struggled educationally but the community accepted me with open arms and understanding. My teacher, who became my mentor, was also the town’s Boy Scout troop leader. I joined the troop, made many friends, contributed to my community and gained self-confidence. I had many obstacles to overcome but I was determined to prevail. My teachers offered extra help during after school hours and I took the opportunity whenever possible. I spent many hours studying my curriculums outside of the classroom in order to improve my grades. Due to my learning disabilities this was a major challenge, but I had a strong will to succeed and be accepted. One of the most invaluable experiences has been giving back to my community by doing volunteer work. What I’ve learned from helping the homeless for several years is the importance of compassion and being kind in a world that often can be cruel. There are many people less fortunate than myself, and I find it rewarding to give others in need a helping hand. My father, who is a member of the Marine Corps, dedicated years of his life to help others, and he has inspired me to do the same. Immersing myself in my community and giving back to a place I call “home”, has given me a sense of purpose and identity. We all need to remember that everyone is fighting some sort of battle, and a simple gesture, or an act of kindness, can have a huge impact on someone. So many people feel hopeless, and many of us need a reminder that we're not alone. I give back to my community, but they have given me so much more in return. Through giving back to my community, I have learned the importance of fellowship, connecting with and supporting others. I contribute much of my personal growth to my community, and I am so grateful to now be accepted - just as I am. For years, I was burdened with shame, felt socially left out, but I fought tirelessly to achieve my goals and to feel valued by others. I refused to let my diagnosis define me. By the time I reached my high school years I began to reap the benefits of my work ethic. With diligence, determination, and proper study habits I was able to excel in honors classes and achieve exceptional grades. The road to success is not easy, it takes perseverance, hard work, commitment and most importantly believing in yourself. I am grateful to be one of the few that beat the odds by refusing to be a statistic. I hope my tenacity, determination, and love for my community will leave an impact on others.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Jul 10, 2024. Winners will be announced on Aug 10, 2024.

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