Family Counseling Services is pleased to announce that Katherine (Katie) Mercer of the Homer Central School District has been selected as the recipient of the 2017 Richard Shay Human Services Award. The award, which also includes a $1,000 scholarship, was created in 2001 by the FCS Board of Directors in honor of FCS founder and former Cortland County Family Court Judge Richard Shay.
Katie exemplifies the characteristics of Judge Shay through her dedication to school and community, recognition of the importance of family, and her commitment to volunteer leadership. In an interesting turn of events, Katie is Dick Shay’s great-niece. However, personally identifying information of the applicants is not shared with the award committee during the scoring process thus they were unaware of that relationship when they selected her as this year’s recipient.
Throughout her high school years, Katie has been actively involved in Student Council, National Honor Society, special school programs and events, and served as captain of both the varsity girls’ basketball and tennis teams. Outside of school she volunteers at her church, the local hospital, Little League, and at special non-profit events including the Relay for Life and Red Cross Blood Donor Drive.
In her letter of support, Homer Teacher and Varsity Tennis Coach Nancy Cavellier wrote “Katie is a well-rounded person who always strives to do her best no matter what the situation may be.” Homer Teacher Peter Aagaard wrote that Katie is a “goal-oriented young woman of uncommon maturity and self-discipline. Those traits combine with her warm and compassionate personality to make her a leader who isn’t just part of a community, but rather a shaper of community.”
Katie has been accepted into Gettysburg College where she will pursue a degree in Biology and Health Sciences with a focus in Public Health as well as Peace and Conflict Studies. “I believe that being educated about problems in the world, present and past, is vital to making any measurable change in the world today,” she shared. Ultimately, she hopes to travel the world the world, provide aid and promote justice in countries in need.
Each year the Richard Shay Human Services Award is given to a student who has been actively involved in school and community service as exemplified by Judge Shay. Applicants should demonstrate a commitment to a career in human services, counseling, law, criminal justice or a related field. The annual award is presented to a graduating Cortland or Madison County high school senior who will attend college starting in the upcoming fall.