Clemson student from Hilton Head wins scholarship worth up to $25,000

sbowman@beaufortgazette.comNovember 3, 2013 

scholarship

Hilton Head Island native Justin Shaw, second from right, is pictured with Gov. Nikki Haley, left, after being recognized as a 2013 National Buick Achiever, a recognition that comes with a scholarship of up to $25,000 and is renewable for four years. Shaw was the only student from South Carolina to receive the award.

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Justin Shaw is no stranger to filling out applications.

In the past two years, the Hilton Head Island native has completed more than 30 forms and written 25 essays while trying for a variety of scholarships.

But one application he filled out last spring means the Clemson University sophomore can relax a bit -- or at least until he has to run off to his organic chemistry class.

Shaw recently was recognized as a 2013 National Buick Achiever, which warrants a scholarship of up to $25,000 that is renewable annually for four years. Shaw was the only student from South Carolina to receive the award.

For the 2013-14 school year, Shaw received $18,000. Because he is a sophomore, he will only receive the scholarship funding for the next three years, and the amount could change every year, based on need, he said.

But the general-engineering major, who pays for most of his college tuition on his own, is just happy his next three years are taken care of.

"I was ecstatic when I found out," said Shaw, 19. He said he received about seven small, one-time scholarships to pay for his freshman year at Clemson.

"The only reason I'm at college is because I worked hard," he said. "I think you should constantly be working hard at something to better yourself at something."

Shaw's mother, Gina Calamari, says he has always been that way, even as a young child.

"He was so determined and wanted to learn, and he was like a sponge," said Calamari, 52. "I just always told him you have to keep going and push yourself -- you have to make it."

Shaw attended St. Francis Catholic School on Hilton Head until eighth grade and graduated in the top of his senior class at Hilton Head Island High School.

Several times at Clemson, he has made the President's List -- an honor for achieving all A's in a semester.

Christine Gray, one of Shaw's favorite math teachers at Hilton Head High, said he was a great and diligent student, often exceeding his own high expectations.

Shaw said he's trying to decide between studying electrical or environmental engineering. He has not yet chosen a career path, but he knows he wants numbers to be involved.

"I like just sitting down and doing a math problem," Shaw said. "I'm a busybody, and I like to be constantly doing something and seeing the effect and seeing the results."

Shaw can see the direct result of winning the Buick Achievers scholarship -- he can now travel to Singapore this summer for two months to perform lab work as part of his engineering major.

Had Shaw not received the scholarship, he would have been back on Hilton Head for the summer, working to save money for college.

He has this advice for any future or current college students:

"To definitely apply for five more scholarships than you think you can -- you never know."

Follow reporter Sarah Bowman at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.

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