Growing up in an academically competitive household—and one that already features two Forman Scholars—Sarah Sharp encountered some unique experiences when it came to school, grades and choosing where to attend college.
“Our dad has always pushed us to get really good grades, so whenever someone would come home with a ‘B’ we’d kind of make fun of them a little bit,” Sarah said of her two sisters, Abigail and Megan. “When we got into high school, we’d always compare GPAs and our grades, always saying to each other ‘Well, I never got a ‘B’ in that class!’ It was all in good fun but pretty competitive as well.”
Now after a high school career full of hard work, Sarah is a Forman Scholar herself and setting off on her own path this fall as she attends Stockton University to pursue a degree in psychology. And while she says there is always pressure when your sisters are academically gifted as well, as the valedictorian of the Salem High School Class of 2018, Sarah says that wasn’t her main motivator scholastically.
“Instead of trying to work harder than my sisters did, I was always trying to work harder than my other classmates to stay on top,” Sarah said. “It was more just staying focused and keeping in mind what I had to do. And I wasn’t going to overwork myself more than I already had. It was about doing the best I could.”
For many students, deciding on a college major can be a daunting one. It’s not easy to choose your career path at age 17 or 18, without having any experience or insight into what a particular major may entail. But because of the Rowan University STEAM Academy (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics), which the Forman S. Acton Educational Foundation provides scholarships to for any Salem City student accepted, the decision was much easier for Sarah.
“STEAM Academy offers a lot of workshops to help you find a potential career path, and psychology was the one that I focused on and really liked,” Sarah said. “So, you took tests, you picked a career path and discovered every step you needed to take to achieve your goals.”
Though it’s certainly early in her college career, Sarah’s goals right now are to graduate Stockton in four years with a bachelor’s degree psychology, then continue her education to earn a master’s degree, and eventually, her doctorate. She hopes her ultimate path leads her to own her own practice as a therapist and helping people work through their challenges. For the time being, however, she’s just taking life one exam at a time and thankful for the opportunities that the Forman S. Acton Educational Foundation has afforded her and her family.
“At our school, being a Forman Scholar is a pretty big deal and it means a lot to me,” Sarah said. “It means not only that I can pay for college, but I’m also creating these relationships with Foundation members and leaders. I’m glad I was able to become a Scholar like my sisters and continue to represent my family.”