Success. How do we love thee? Let us count the ways. Within a family, success often comes to siblings in predictable order and with time separating their stories. Tyler and Tessa Crews are a brother-sister anomaly.
Tyler Crews, a Rappahannock County High School 2010 graduate, is anticipating his move to the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. His potential for success gained a leg up this spring when he received one of only 650 national Jack Kent Cooke Foundation (JKCF) scholarships.
Billionaire philanthropist Jack Kent Cooke established a foundation to reward students facing economic challenges who exhibited academic excellence.
While in seventh grade Crews, through the Center for Talented Youth, applied for financial aid through the Cooke Young Scholars program. His wish was granted. From grade eight through his senior year, Crews benefited.
“They worked to support my interests. They helped purchase athletic equipment, guitar lessons and a computer. I was also able to attend summer programs throughout high school, so I could develop my academic interests,” he said.
Crews also became eligible to apply to the Cooke Foundation’s College Scholars program.
“This program provides up to $30,000 per year, based on how much is cut off from financial aid and other scholarships,” Crews explained. “Because I’ve received the Carolina Covenant Scholarship from UNC, which covers the cost of my tuition but charges me a sum in work-service, the JKCF is working on removing that sum. Jack Kent Cooke had to work instead of going to college to support his family, so the goal of the organization is that their students do not have to work throughout college so they can focus on their academics.”
He has set his sights on becoming a trauma surgeon, but first there’s getting through college. “I currently plan on double-majoring in biology and English,” he said. Medical school will follow.
Before the shadow of Tyler’s triumphs could even fall, Tessa, his sister and a RCHS junior, had her own success.
“Toni Egger [of the Headwaters Foundation] told me about a program called The Island School,” she said. This unique school, headquartered in New Jersey, is a non-profit organization that seeks “to be a community that fosters the development of responsible, caring global citizens.”
After Crews’ application was accepted, she learned that The Island School granted her half of the $7,000 tuition. “Headwaters funded another thousand,” Crews reported, “and family and friends generously donated the rest. Headwaters was such a huge help in helping me obtain this opportunity. I couldn’t thank them enough. Kathy Eggers, Monica Worth, Sherri Tyson, Susan McCarthy, Sevgi Bullock, Aunt Cloud, Katherine Fong, and Patricia Dashielle made generous donations.”
From June 29 to July 27, Crews attended school in Eleuthra in the Bahamas. “In my research group, I learned about aquaculture’s long term and short term effect on local markets. For that study, I learned how do identify over 90 species of fish.
“Not only did I learn hands-on what it would be like to live as a marine biologist, but through the class on human ecology, I learned how each and every person could live a more sustainable life. Living sustainably is the ultimate goal at campus, and that’s being reached through the use of wind turbines, solar panels, aquaponics and the reduction of water use.”
Beyond the intense research, Crews gained more insight about herself. “Every morning at 5:30, we had exercise. This could include anything from a five-mile run/swim to an intense game of water polo. On the last morning, we ran a 10-mile triathlon to prove to ourselves how much we’ve grown physically and mentally. In the middle of the term, we went on a three-day kayak trip. At the end of this trip, each individual spent 24 hours in solitude on an island. This tradition allowed students to reflect. We became stronger people.”
Crews said her summer experience was one “that not only educates, but inspires growth in each person. We were always exhausted, and at times homesick, but it never stopped us from wanting to experience more. We even reached out to the community by working on the local basketball court so that the children could play. We saw all the Bahamians on their Independence Day. We explored caves and blue holes, camped on the beach and sang the Bahamian National Anthem. I have never been more in touch with myself or with a whole community of people as I was for that month. It’s an experience we’ll all carry with us for the rest of our lives.”
This brother-sister duo will, undoubtedly, need larger totes to carry all that will be available for their future success stories.