If someday in the future Michelle Nagy gently guides an IV into your arm, you might not realize she grew up bouncing from foster home to foster home.
You might not know the unassuming young woman got her first job serving food in a bar when she was 8 years old, that she watched her mother succumb to addiction and abuse at the hands of boyfriends, or that her father hit the road the minute her mother said she was pregnant.
You might not know because Nagy doesn't want you to feel sorry for her -- because she's decided to take a higher road and overcome the cycle of poverty and addiction into which she was born.
That courage and optimistic perseverance in the face of so much heartache was the reason Firelands Positive People named Nagy the top scholarship winner at the 13th annual High School Positive Living Awards on Wednesday.
Fourteen area students were honored at the banquet for overcoming obstacles to better themselves and others. FPP president and founder Bob Eirons read a list of heart-wrenching excerpts from the application essays submitted by students.
Some had lost a parent to illness or tragedy, while others overcame abuse, depression, bullying or addictions. But in spite of their many hurdles, the students persevered. Many plan to pursue fields like law and health care where they can help others.
"This is a different type of scholarship," Eirons said. "It's not necessarily for a 4.0 student or an athlete ... it's for people whoovercame obstacles."
Nagy, who plans to go to BGSU Firelands to become a registered nurse, received a $3,000 toward her education.
"I really didn't think I'd be standing up here today," Nagy said. She thanked her counselors, foster parents, Ben and Vonda Patrick, and Firelands Positive People.
"Thank you for reading my story with an open heart and believing in me and awarding me this great prize," she said, after wiping away tears.
The second-place winner, Sharen Torrence, a senior at Norwalk High School, survived a traumatic foster home experience and is now a member of student council, Key Club and Shadow, an environmental club. She received a $1,000 scholarship toward her education at Norfolk StateUniversity, where she plans to pursue a doctorate of psychology.
Third-place finisher and $500 scholarship winner Brittany Wells, of Danbury High School, plans to go to Bowling Green State University to study education and wants to be a sixth-grade teacher.
Alexandra Goodrich of St. Mary Central Catholic received the Student Enthusiasm Award and Taylor Thomson of Sandusky High School and Stephanie Perrin of Bellevue High School were awarded $750 scholarships to BGSU Firelands. Terra Community College awarded Ashley Fuerstenberg of PortClinton High School a $1,000scholarship.
Other finalists were Kayla Nelson of Edison High School, Jacquelyne Weir of Huron High School, Kayla Cyr of Margaretta High School, Tori Rogers of Monroeville High School, Bryson Conway of Perkins High School, Joseph Lucas of St. Paul High School and Courtney M. Jordan of Vermilion High School.