Rachel Coombs Named Richard Shay Human Services Award Recipient

Pictured: McGraw High School Principal Mark Dimorier, Shay Award recipient Rachel Coombs, Dick Shay’s daughter Maggie Bardsley and FCS Executive Director and CEO Lisa Hoeschele

Family Counseling Services (FCS) is pleased to announce that Rachel Coombs of the McGraw Central School District has been selected as the recipient of the 2018 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. Coombs 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.

2018 Richard Shay Award recipient Rachel Coombs

Coombs is the McGraw Class of 2018 Valedictorian and has received numerous awards for her academic and athletic achievements. Throughout her high school years, she has been actively involved in Student Council, National Honor Society, French Club, Yearbook and Future Business Leaders of America and has served as an officer within these groups.  She is a member of the McGraw Varsity Soccer team as well as the Cortland YMCA Stingers and USA Swimming teams. Outside of school she volunteers at the McGraw Community Food Pantry and at special non-profit events including the United Way Day of Caring, Red Cross blood donor drives, and the American Legion Veterans’ Day dinners.

In her letter of support, McGraw Chemistry and Physics teacher Morgan Nuesell wrote “Rachel has a great deal of inherent motivation and works hard to excel in every facet of her life. She is compassionate, kind, intelligent, and one of the most well respected students in our school by her peers and teachers alike.”

Dr. Michael Kennedy, Cortland YMCA Stingers Head Coach wrote that “Rachel is a leader, role model and volunteer to our entire swim team. She is instrumental on deck to teaching not only the fundamentals of swimming but also the major mental component that goes along with the rigorous sport of competitive swimming. Rachel never hesitates to step up to the plate and lend a helping hand whether it’s assisting our younger swimmers with their gear, line up for bull pen, or fine tuning a swimmer’s stroke, Rachel is there without being asked. She instinctively helps others and serves as a strong role model for her peers.”

Coombs has been accepted into the Doctorate of Physical Therapy program at Nazareth College and will continue swimming at the collegiate level.  In fact it was swimming that led to her career choice.  She has been a member of the Cortland Stingers Swim Team for ten years and serves as the Captain and Swim Coach for over fifty swimmers.  Swim related injuries of her own as well as those of her teammates led her to job shadow at Goldwyn & Boyland Physical Therapy where she developed a love for the career.  “I am eager to enter the field of physical therapy to learn more and to integrate my swimming career into a path for improving quality of life and movement for my patients… physically, emotionally, and mentally” said Coombs.

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.