Shelby Lynn Bridges’ hard work has paid off in a big way.
During a Friday morning presentation in the staff lounge of Walmart, a beaming 18-year-old Bridges, a senior at Southeast Bulloch High School, was treated to cake and hugs from family after being announced a recipient of an annual Walmart Foundation Dependent Scholarship.
Through an application process to determine need and evaluate academic success, Bridges was awarded $13,000 to continue her education at Georgia Southern University beginning this fall.
Walmart store manager Phillip Myhand announced the honor and presented the future early childhood education major with a plaque documenting her accomplishment.
“I was very excited and shocked mostly,” said Bridges, who learned last week of her achievement. “This will help very much. This will relieve a lot of stress in going to and affording college.”
Bridges said that to receive the grant, she was required to provide various details about herself and father, who works as an asset protection manager at the Statesboro Walmart, and submit an essay.
“I had to sell myself in the essay, describe why I wanted to continue my education and how the scholarship would help me do that,” she said.
Friday’s ceremony provided her father, Roy Bridges, an opportunity to celebrate the success of his daughter with co-workers, who reportedly are no strangers to hearing the proud papa boast about his children.
“I am extremely proud,” said a slightly choked-up Bridges. “We are very excited. This is definitely a financial help for her.
“For her to be one of the lucky few throughout the organization to win this award is really great,” he said.
According to Myhand, the Statesboro store’s district manager said that in 29 years on the job, he had seen just one other scholarship awarded locally.
“It is a big deal,” Myhand said.
“We were kind of shocked because of Walmart being such a large company,” said Julie Bridges, Shelby’s mother. “We are very proud and so excited for her.”
Her teachers say the committed student deserves the recognition.
“To describe Shelby, the only words I can really use are: hard-working,” said Matt Olsen, band director of “The Swarm,” Southeast Bulloch High’s marching band, for which Bridges plays the flute. “She is maybe the hardest-working person I have ever met. She sees a task and sets forth to do it; but not just do it, she wants to do it the right way — re-alphabetize it, re-color-graph it, repaint it, reset it, and rebuild it the way it needs to be done.”
“She has always been, by far, the hardest-working musician,” he continued. “And as far as her deserving this, if you had asked me to give that award to one of my students, I would give it to Shelby.”
Bridges, who has a 3.1 GPA, says the accolade didn’t come easy.
“I have always done really well and put everything I’ve got into everything I do,” she said. “But I have had to work a lot harder than some other students.
“I struggle in learning things sometimes, so it is a little harder to get the good grades,” she continued. “So I just work a little extra.”
That little extra work also earned her a little extra reward Friday.
In addition to the scholarship, plaque and cake, Bridges received a bag of Georgia Southern memorabilia befitting a future Eagle.
The awarded scholarship funds will be disbursed to Bridges over the course of four years. The Walmart money, along with the HOPE Scholarship, will help pay her way through college.
Jeff Harrison can be reached at (912) 489-9454.