Aug. 25, 2008 – When Doré Culbert, 18, goes off to the University of Vermont in Burlington this week, it will be with the help of a Rotary Club of St. John scholarship. The $12,500 scholarship covers four years at the school.
"It means I won't have to worry about paying back so much," Culbert said.
She also got grants and scholarships from the University of Vermont, but said she'll still have to work to pay back the student loans she needs to fund the rest of her tuition.
Bill Willigerod, who handles the Rotary Club scholarship, said the organization awarded the scholarship based on an essay, an interview and need.
"It was the combination of the whole package," he said, explaining why Culbert was the successful candidate.
Culbert hasn't made up her mind as to what she plans for a major, noting that she doesn't have to do so until her second or third year.
She picked the University of Vermont because she has friends and family in the area and because it's a good school.
"It's practically Ivy League," she said.
Born at what was then St. Thomas Hospital because St. John doesn't have a medical facility that delivers babies, Culbert spent her entire youth on St. John.
"I'm really going to miss the place. I like everything about the place – the people, the weather, the water," she said.
And she likes the lifestyle, calling St. John "very laid back."
She's no stranger to wintry weather, however, since her mother's cousin, former Sen. Craig Barshinger, took her on snowboarding vacations in Colorado for the past four winters.
Culbert started her educational career at what was then Pine Peace School. The school grew and changed names several times so when she graduated in June, it was called Gifft Hill School.
"I've basically been at the same school my whole life," she said.
Vermont will be a change not just because of the much colder weather. Culbert said she's excited about meeting new people and discovering what they think.
And she's delighted to experience a place where life is easier than on St. John. Discussing the frustration felt by many St. John residents when they need to buy something, she pointed out that she tries all the stores on St. John, then the stores on St. Thomas and then resorts to Internet shopping.
"Then you find out they don't ship here," she said.
In addition to going to school, Culbert works at several jobs. She spent her high school years working as a waitress at JJ's Texas Coast Café and as hostess at Happy Fish. Earlier, she worked at the Inn at Tamarind Court's Greek Night.
Culbert lives with her sister, Vela, 8, and her mother, Keryn Bryan.
Bryan is proud of her daughter, noting that she's very responsible and driven.
"And she's very much her own person and always has been," Bryan said.
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