October 13, 2018
School & Youth
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  • Emma Shakan, a recent graduate from Chesapeake High School, received the Comcast Leaders and Achievers scholarship.
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    Emma Shakan, a recent graduate from Chesapeake High School, received the Comcast Leaders and Achievers scholarship.

Emma Shakan Earns Comcast Leaders And Achievers Scholarship

Maya Pottiger
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June 12, 2018

Emma Shakan was surprised to learn she received the Comcast Leaders and Achievers scholarship.

She got the congratulatory email on a Monday during school, so she was able to show the counselor who originally nominated her for the honor.

“The reason that we nominated Emma is her dedication to our ACC students,” said guidance counselor Cheryl Shiflett. “Whenever Emma had a free moment in her day, she was down in the classroom mentoring and being friends with the kids in the ACC program.”

Schiflett said she nominates students for scholarships only when they go the extra mile.

“Emma has always put the students in our ACC program above herself,” Shiflett said. “This program and the students was way more important to her than anything else.”

The Comcast Leaders and Achievers scholarship is funded through the Comcast Foundation and “recognizes high school seniors from Comcast communities for their commitment to community service, academics and demonstrated leadership. To acknowledge these accomplishments, Leaders and Achievers students are awarded one-time scholarships, with a base award of $1,000,” according to the website.

Nine Anne Arundel students and 101 Marylanders overall received scholarships this year. Shakan was nominated for her work with Best Buddies, an international organization that is dedicated to integrating and creating equal opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, or IDD.

“I wasn’t expecting to win anything,” Shakan said. “It was really nice to see all the work pay off [and] finally see I was able to get a reward for what I could do and what I worked for.”

Though Shakan had been working in her school’s ACC, or alternative curriculum classroom, the Best Buddies program didn’t find Chesapeake High School until her senior year. Members asked Shakan to be president of the club for its inaugural year.
“She was an integral part in getting the Best Buddies program off the ground,” Schiflett said.

“It’s been really great because it’s been able to bring a lot of people in the classroom for lunches and have people sitting with them in the cafeteria,” Shakan said.

At Chesapeake, the Best Buddies program matches each “buddy,” or IDD student, with a “member,” a non-IDD student.

“They’ll have one-on-one friendships where you’ll go outside the school and hang out, and also try to hang out with them during lunch inside school,” Shakan said. “We try to have a meeting with them once a week just to have everyone together and host little parties. It’s a lot of fun.”

In addition to meeting during the day, Shakan also stayed after school to spend time with her buddies. She was part of the unified sports team, and met her buddies at the movies or other after-school events.

Shakan initially started volunteering in Meade Middle School’s ACC classroom, but she wasn’t allowed to officially be an aide until getting to high school.

“I really connect with those guys,” Shakan said. “There’s a lot of social barriers with them. They’re very isolated, and I try to break that a lot.”

In the fall, Shakan will attend Anne Arundel County Community College. She doesn’t have a set major but plans to pursue occupational therapy. This summer, Shakan is looking to volunteer with an organization in Baltimore that teaches those of any age with autism how to ride a bike.

Though Shakan will no longer be an official member of Best Buddies, she said she plans to stay connected however she can.

“I’ll definitely come and visit,” Shakan said. “If they’re having any outside occasions, I’ll be happy to join them.”

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