A Pickerington High School Central senior recently was awarded a $10,000 scholarship by a Columbus Blue Jackets organization for her philanthropic work.

A Pickerington High School Central senior recently was awarded a $10,000 scholarship by a Columbus Blue Jackets organization for her philanthropic work.

Shelby York, 17, this fall will commence studies in molecular genetics at Ohio State University in hopes of one day counseling children with Down syndrome and their parents to overcome physical and emotional struggles so they can pursue happiness and dreams.

Earlier this month, the Blue Jackets Foundation helped put York on the way to realizing what she sees as her purpose by awarding her with a $10,000 John H. McConnell Scholarship.

The scholarship is made possible by Columbus Blue Jackets players, in partnership with the team's charitable foundation.

Established in 2008, it's meant to honor the life and legacy of the late John H. McConnell, founder of both the team and Blue Jackets Foundation, and to recognize an Ohio high school senior who personifies McConnell's character and leadership.

According to the Blue Jackets Foundation, York was selected after maintaining a 4.0 grade-point average, and for community outreach.

She was recognized for volunteerism with the Special Olympics, including developing a basketball program and self-initiated fundraising campaign, and participation in anti-bullying programs at local elementary schools.

She also was active in her school's Butterfly Project, a program aimed at helping teenage girls with self-esteem and image issues.

Additionally, York has held class offices in student council all four years at Central, and currently serves as president of both National Honor Society and Key Club.

She also has played soccer team and participated in the school's theater productions.

"When they first called, I was just blown away," said York, the daughter of Steve and Kristin York.

"I never really expected it because there are so many people out there doing awesome things."

York applied for the scholarship several months ago, and went through an extensive qualifications process, which included writing four essays and being interviewed by a review committee.

In her essays, York wrote of desire to seek specialized education so she can positively impact those in need of assistance.

"So many of us question our place in the world," she wrote. "Are we to be firemen, doctors, pastors?

"We were put on this Earth to make an impact. We were not placed on Earth to hurt others, use harmful sources or just sit around all day.

"As human beings, we are only given a short amount of time to live. Why not make the most of it? Why live life unhappy or waste precious time?

"... Changing the world does not necessarily mean starting a worldwide program that will feed all the hungry children, or finding the cure to cancer, it can be as simple as helping old ladies cross the street, or paying for another family's meal at a restaurant.

"We were all given so much, why waste it?"

High school seniors in the Pickerington Local School District are required to complete a senior project.

York's project involved raising funds for her area's Special Olympics Program, which she said involved organizing a 5K run and planning a summer soccer camp.

She said those projects, as well as regular interaction with Special Olympics athletes, inspired her to maintain a positive attitude and strive for selflessness.

"Special Olympics had the most impact on me," she said. "I've learned a lot through the program."

Through her education at OSU, York said, she hopes to learn more about the genetics of people with Down syndrome, and take that information to help empower those with Down syndrome while giving hope to their loved ones.

"I'm definitely excited to make the most out of all these situations," she said.

"What I'm hoping to do is show people that Down syndrome can be a struggle, but it definitely can be a blessing."