2020 Carl Parsell Scholar got jump start on college education

By Jennifer Gomori, MAPE Editor

Unlike 2020 high school graduates around the nation, this year’s Carl Parsell Scholarship winner was able to experience his graduation ceremony and other end of senior year milestones.

That’s because 2020 scholar Nathan Sharkey finished his senior year at Grass Lake High School in 2019, although he didn’t officially graduate until June 14, 2020. Sharkey completed his fifth year of high school through a free early college program at Jackson Community College.

2020 Carl Parsell Scholarship recipient Nathan Sharkey (center) at his Grass Lake High School graduation in 2019. He is the son of MAPE member Joseph Sharkey (left) and Laurene Sharkey (right).

“I’m very happy I didn’t have to go to a normal college this year. All of it was on campus until the coronavirus came and the last seven weeks were at home,” Sharkey said. “It’s definitely made me happy that I had graduation last year and got to finish up my whole school year.”

Sharkey did, however, miss the formal celebration of his scholarship during the Annual Carl Parsell Memorial Golf Outing, which was canceled due to the pandemic. Typically, scholarship recipients and their parents are recognized during the outing’s steak dinner finale by Union staff, event participants and sponsors.

“The Raider Dennis Agency looks forward to the scholarship event every year,” said V.I.P. Sponsor Stuart Raider. “It is an honor to be a part of the long-standing tradition that my father, Jordan Raider, took part in of gifting a scholarship to the next generation of bright individuals. Congratulations to Nathan Sharkey! I look forward to meeting you in the future.”

The son of MAPE member Joseph Sharkey, a Mechanic Operator for the City of Jackson Wastewater Treatment Plant, graduated with a 3.8 GPA while completing his first year of college. He will transfer to Ferris State University this fall to pursue a degree in Applied Science and is planning a career as a machinist.

Sharkey has been working as a Basic Machinist at Mid-America Machining in Brooklyn, Michigan. The Grass Lake resident began working there during a vocational education program through Jackson Area Career Center. “I took the class there for two years and it led me to get a job there,” Sharkey said.

The Grass Lake Varsity Soccer Team player was a member of National Technical Honor Society. He was honored two years for being the best trumpet player in both Grass Lake High School Concert Band and Jazz Band and named best trumpet player in Jackson County Honors Band.

Sharkey has volunteered through his church, Family Worship Center, and in the community. He was a bagger for Fresh Food Initiative in Grass Lake, which provides food to the needy, and through Family Worship Center’s Day of Hope, providing basic home supplies to those in need.

He participated in a Boy Scout fundraiser and is a church youth group leader for middle school and high school students, helping teach lessons and planning activities. He volunteered with Warrior Soccer Camp and at The Copper Nail, a non-profit thrift store in downtown Grass Lake. Sharkey stocked shelves and cleaned items donated to The Copper Nail, which were fixed and sold with profits going to local community service organizations.

Sharkey is extremely thankful for the $2,500 Carl Parsell Scholarship. “It’s going to help me a pretty good amount to pay for college at Ferris,” he said.

He was also awarded Ferris State’s Transfer President’s Scholarship for the next three years.

“I have to pay for most of my college and get as many scholarships as I can,” Sharkey wrote in his scholarship application. “College will help with my dream of becoming a great machinist. I am hoping that, if I have a family in the future, I make enough for my kids not to worry too much about college like me.”