With a heart for education, Stacia needed to complete a college degree to fulfill her hope of making a difference in the lives of local students. Though her passion for teaching extends back through generations in her family, Stacia found the financial burden of attending a university to be daunting.
While graduating from Tri Junior-Senior High school, she decided to apply for scholarships through the Henry County Community Foundation and received the William F. Byrket scholarship. She recalled, “Without the help from scholarships, it would have been a much greater obstacle for me to attend college.”
It was a similar passion for education that inspired William, Maude, and Arista Byrket to establish this scholarship in 1943. Through the power of perpetuity, this fund has grown exponentially. What began as a $10,000 trust fund donation has expanded to $1,400,000 and benefits Henry County students each year.
This fund has reached thousands of students over the years, helping them to fulfill their educational goals. Goals like Stacia’s dream of sowing seeds of hope and success in the lives of local students.
After more than 20 years of teaching in the community, Stacia (Mullins) Guarisco continues to feel honored by the gift of scholarship. She shared, “It helped me see that I had a community that cared about me and my future. The Henry County Community Foundation was supporting me, and that made my education an act of gratitude. It pushed me on and gave me hope for the future. I wanted to succeed for more than myself. And I hope I can continue to make a difference in the same way with my students.”
Stacia isn’t the only Byrket recipient to come back and leave a mark on our community. Henry County has been fortunate to see many of these students graduate and return to the community to carry on the Byrket family’s passion for education and investing in the lives of students.
Though it’s been 20 years since graduating from New Castle High School, Jacob White still remembers his senior honors program and what it felt like to receive the Byrket scholarship. He expressed, “I was truly humbled and grateful for the scholarship and the possibilities that it would unlock. I don’t think I realized the magnitude of a four-year scholarship at the time. But the Byrket scholarship gave me the freedom to focus on my academics and participate in soccer and leadership opportunities on campus”
The Byrket scholarship eased the financial stress of attending college and helped Jacob succeed and obtain his degree from Franklin College. After graduating, he was able to pursue his passion. He shared, “I returned to New Castle when I was offered my dream job of teaching 8th grade U.S. History and coaching varsity soccer. While I was offered positions in other communities, the opportunity to teach in my hometown and this community was an opportunity I could not pass on. I have greatly enjoyed working for New Castle Schools and living in this community with my wife and daughters.”
Jacob has since shifted roles from teaching to administration. He currently serves as the principal of New Castle Middle School where he is sowing seeds of hope in both educators and the next generation of students.
The Byrkets made a choice nearly 80 years ago to give what they could to invest in the lives of students then and now. They would have no way of knowing how many students like Stacia and Jacob would benefit from this decision. Because of their gift of renewable dollars through the Foundation, not only are students able to fulfill their hopes for a college education, but the community will continue to thrive when they return to Henry County and carry on the legacy set before them through donors like the Byrkets.