UMass Boston students Dawn DeRossette ’18 and Scarlette Nord ’20 were selected to receive this year’s Krystle Campbell Scholarship. The $5,000 scholarships—named after UMass Boston alumna Krystle Campbell, who lost her life in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing—is presented to two undergraduate business students who stand out among their peers for their involvement in the university and community and overall academic excellence.
“It was overwhelming,” said DeRossette, whose husband was unemployed from July to January. “I applied to every single scholarship that I even remotely qualified for to try to figure something out. This particular scholarship is just phenomenal.”
DeRossette and Nord attended the Krystle Campbell Scholarship presentation and marathon celebration on April 7 at the Medford Senior Center, where they met with members of the community and university who raise money for the scholarship each year.
“I was really touched by Krystle Campbell’s story. I’m honored that I got to kind of carry her legacy. To know that I’m representing her in a way, I want to make sure I do her proud,” said Nord.
Nord is a Haitian immigrant who wrote in her scholarship essay that she appreciates the value of education and sees it as a privilege to earn a college degree. That privilege, however, was almost taken away from Nord in 2015; after just one semester of college, Nord had to take a year off of school due to financial distress.
“For a while I was angry at myself, angry at life, and angry at the system. It seemed like things would only get worse from then on, and I repeatedly told myself that now I was just another disappointing statistic,” Nord wrote in her essay.
She said that receiving the Krystle Campbell Scholarship has put her back on track for collegiate success.
“Knowing that I can still continue in school and knowing that my hard work is being acknowledged in some way just makes me want to keep working harder and keep on going further,” she said.
DeRossette also pointed to overcoming challenges to get into and through college. She dropped out of high school and worked in a restaurant for years before enlisting in the military. Now a medically retired veteran of the U.S. Army, DeRossette said she enrolled at UMass Boston because she liked how military- and veteran-friendly the university is.
“I had to do a lot of soul-searching and research to figure out what I could do with this,” said DeRossette, referring to her passion for the military and leadership. “Where could I go with this? And can I make this work? And I started researching different schools and found UMass.”
DeRossette, who is majoring in both business and anthropology, does not want to be done serving her country. She plans to pursue a graduate degree in public administration and business administration with the ultimate goal of working for the Department of Veteran Affairs. And someday, “if everything aligns right,” DeRossette said she’d like to be nominated as secretary of the VA.
“I want to serve my fellow veterans, and I want to make sure that when my brothers and sisters come home, that they’re properly taken care of and that they have a support system and they don’t have to worry about that ultimate question: ‘What now? What’s next? Where do I go from here?’” said DeRossette.
Nord, too, wants to serve her home country with her degree. She said she wants to help decrease the unemployment rate in Haiti by building businesses that will benefit the economy.
“I really want to help develop the country and help people get jobs,” said Nord, adding that it is “unheard of” in Haiti for a woman in the business field to be doing what she’s doing. “I want to inspire other girls and show them that they can do so much more than what a girl is ‘supposed’ to do. I want to inspire girls and help the country and help those people.”