Here’s a photo of Bailey Driscoll, horizontal during a high jump, shooting a knowing glance. There’s one of her kicking out an Irish step dance, suspended mid-air enough for a good-sized dog to trot beneath her. In one more, she’s delivering a slam in a quarter final volleyball match against a rival of Portsmouth High School, her Rhode Island alma mater.
And here’s the recent headline that knocks it all out of the park: “Bailey Driscoll, a top student in the 2016 graduating class at Portsmouth High School, awarded the A.H. Kits van Heyningen Technology Scholarship.”
To those who think the banquet of life serves up a mutually exclusive choice of brains or brawn, Bailey Driscoll — scholarship recipient, straight A student, National Honor Society member, vocalist, volunteer, Science Olympian, and yes, athlete and step dancer — offers some perspective wise beyond her teenage years.
While she put the final touches on some dorm room purchases that’ll come in handy when she arrives at Brown University in September to study neuroscience/premed/Hispanic literatures and cultures, Bailey took a few moments to reflect on how putting the proper time and effort into a variety of goals contributes to a rewarding life.
“Each of these activities – track and field, dancing, volunteering, holding down a part-time job – has made me more aware of myself and of how to handle my surroundings,” she says. “I’ve been dancing since I was in the first grade. I am not the best dancer, and knowing that I need to work hard has proven helpful in the classroom, because I know that if I work a little harder than other people to really understand the material, I can produce the best work.
“When I am running or dancing, I tell myself that I will not die if I keep going, even though my body is telling me I will, which allows me to keep going and become better at what I do. Once I began volunteering at Newport Hospital and working at Panera Bread, I immediately began being more comfortable around adults and I really came out of my shell. Now I know the value of asking for help, versus struggling with intimidation.”
Yet the complete recipe for success has a few more ingredients, and in letters of reference included in the scholarship application, mentors and educators repeatedly cited Bailey as not just devoting time and effort into anything she does, but as also possessing a clear work ethic, self-discipline, and integrity that are essential for anyone embarking on a rigorous path of study and career.
“I’ve realized that work ethic is much more reliable and more valuable to me than mental aptitude, and that is why I believe I can be successful in the medical field,” Bailey says. “I will be in school for a long time, but as long as I keep my long-term goal in mind, I know I can accomplish it.”
The KVH technology scholarship, begun in 2008, is named for KVH’s late co-founder and chief scientist to recognize the importance science, technology, engineering, and math professionals play in the current and future success of the company. The recipient must plan to pursue a science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) program at a four-year college.
That requirement is just fine by Bailey, who isn’t shy about why she believes STEM subjects are vital to humanity.
“I believe science/technology to be one of the most important, if not the most important, career fields today,” she says. “People rely on STEM for just about everything they need in order to live their lives, from doctor appointments to Netflix, and I am extremely excited to pursue a career in this field. Some people are afraid of technology and believe it is destroying society, but I could not disagree more. It has allowed us to communicate and diffuse ideas with efficiency and grace, to save people’s lives, and to enjoy ourselves more, and I think people forget how important and beneficial technology is.”
Congratulations, Bailey, and we look forward to seeing how you will use your persistence, commitment, and STEM studies to change the world.