Whitney says “excitement and joy” of helping others inspires her education

PORTLAND – A Maine woman will continue toward a career in speech pathology and healthcare thanks in part to a scholarship recently awarded by MEMIC.

Emma Whitney of Surry is the winner of a $2,500 Harvey Picker Horizon Scholarship, awarded annually since 2008 to children and spouses of workers seriously injured on the job. MEMIC awarded $17,500 in this year’s round and has awarded more than $242,000 in scholarships since the program began.

Whitney said she will use the award to continue studies toward a bachelor’s degree in the communication sciences program at the University of Maine, where she has earned a 3.58 GPA. She said she plans to attend graduate school to study to be a speech pathologist and to stay in Maine to help people heal.

Whitney’s father, a carpenter, injured his shoulder on the job in early 2021 when he slipped and fell on an icy surface. He was able to return to work but continues to have job restrictions.

During high school, she applied for a job at a retirement home as an activities assistant, and said being able to bring a smile to the residents’ faces during the pandemic “helped me grow as an individual more than I ever expected it to.” It also drove her decision to pursue a career in speech pathology.

“Easily one of the best decisions I have ever made,” she wrote in her application. “Being able to bring a smile to the residents’ faces in such a scary time, or even just to hold their hand and listen to their stories, helped me grow as an individual more than I ever expected it to. It also showed me how rewarding having a job like that can be.”

During her father’s injury and recovery, Whitney said she was often his only daytime caretaker.

“I would wake up early to make sure that I filled his ice machine every day and I got to spend this time with my dad helping him in a time when he needed me most,” she said. “It also came as a help to my mom since she now had to work extra with my dad being out of work.

“There were days when it was really hard trying to balance helping my dad, schoolwork, a job, and driving up to cheering three nights a week. But I am grateful for the extra time I got to spend with my dad to ensure that he healed and felt taken care of.”

“If there is one thing I know for sure in this life,” she said, “it is that I am here to make a difference in people’s lives by sharing love and kindness. … The field allows me to work in school settings, healthcare facilities, nursing homes, and many other routes. It brings me excitement and joy every day knowing that I will be able to help people to improve the quality of their lives.”

“Emma is exactly the kind of bright, hard-working scholar for whom we started the Horizon Scholarship program 14 years ago,” MEMIC Group President and CEO Michael Bourque said. “She has proven herself in school and made hard sacrifices. We wish her the best in school and her father a swift and certain recovery from his injuries,” Bourque said. 

The scholarship is named after former Camden resident Harvey Picker, a renowned physicist, educator, philanthropist, and advocate for education. In 1992, Picker was appointed by then-Gov. John R. McKernan, Jr. as a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Workers’ Compensation, which led to the formation of MEMIC. Picker also served as a member of the Board of Directors at MEMIC.

Applicants complete the application in May to be considered for a scholarship of up to $10,000. To be eligible, the related injured worker must have been working for a MEMIC policyholder at the time of injury.

Applications are reviewed by a selection committee for financial need, academic performance, community involvement, other life experiences, as well as future promise. Students must be attending or planning to attend an accredited college or university.

For more information, call 1-800-660-1306 and say “Horizon Scholarship” at the prompt or visit memic.com/horizon.