Graduation 2018: Three scholarship recipients reflect on graduation |

Graduation 2018: Three scholarship recipients reflect on graduation

Kiwanis Club scholarship committee members and 2018 club high school scholarship winners stand together after an awards barbecue in Loudy-Simpson Park.
Sasha Nelson/staff

A record number of Moffat County graduates were awarded scholarships, totaling $15,000, by the Kiwanis Club of Craig during a barbecue held May 9.

At the barbecue, 10 of 11 scholarships were awarded, and photos were featured on

The $15,000 in scholarship money was drawn from proceeds from the annual Kiwanis Club Play and Yahoo Golf Tournament, as well as funds donated for one scholarship in memory of Sarah Fleming, by the Fleming family, and two scholarships in memory of Richard Haslem by the Haslem family.

Graduates receiving the three memorial scholarships have big plans for their futures.

Sarah Fleming memorial scholarship recipient Jaci McDiffett

When Jaci McDiffett announced that she intends to pursue a degree in health sciences at Wyoming State University, alumni Joan Fleming let out a cheer.

Joan and her husband Dave Fleming presented McDiffett with the $2,000 scholarship in honor of their daughter.

Sarah Fleming, 22, was killed in a car crash Aug. 14, 2010. She was a 2006 graduate of Moffat County High School.

“I’m thankful to be able to receive the scholarship, and I’m excited to go to college and be successful,” McDiffett said of the honor.

The selection committee works to find students that exhibit some of Sarah Fleming’s interests was a preschool teacher active in 4-H, FFA and rodeo.

McDiffett enjoys working with children.

“I’m a lifeguard and teach swim lessons and have helped little kids learn to swim. I helped kids and improve, but I don’t want to work as a teacher in a classroom of kids. Instead, I prefer to work one-on-one,” she said.

Upon the advice of her grandmother, she spent part of her senior year shadowing an occupational therapist at the hospital. She really enjoyed it and expects that the health sciences program at UW will allow her to test the waters and choose a career path.

School didn’t come easily to McDiffett.

“I had to work extra hard at it and ask extra questions. I had to have help with someone reading them for me to check grammar and spelling. I’ve had to work a lot harder at it,” she said.

It was her mom who she said helped keep her on track and encouraged her to apply for scholarships. The work landed her four awards.

“I have some money saved since I was little, but the more I could do to earn extra support and explain myself to others the better for my future,” McDiffett said.

Richard Haslem Memorial Scholarship recipients

Richard Haslem believed in Moffat County, where he moved in 1988, serving as a Moffat County Extension Agent and later, as an insurance agent.

He was also passionate in his support of Colorado Northwestern Community College, where he served as a member of the college district board.

Haslem lost a nine-year battle with myleofibrosis — a rare blood cancer — in November 2017. His family set up the Kiwanis scholarship fund in his name and was able to gift two $1,500 awards to students planning to start their college studies at CNCC.

Drake Zimmerman

Often in the news for his skill at wrestling, Drake Zimmerman is also a scholar.

“I plan to start my education at CNCC before transferring to Colorado State University to become a game warden,” he said in a short speech at the Kiwanis barbeque.

He set himself up for success by working hard, both in and out of the gym. He made the honor roll in his senior year.

In an earlier story, he attributed his success to his parents.

“I’d like to thank my mom for making such wonderful meals and being a positive influence, my dad for all the time and effort that he’s done and all my coaches, from peewees on up,” Zimmerman said.

Brooklyn Hickey

When asked what being one of the first students to receive the Richard Haslem Memorial Scholarship means to her, recipient Brooklyn Hickey said, “He wanted to help students that are trying to strive but couldn’t afford to go to university. They (his family) are giving kids a second chance and helping them further their careers in life.”

Hickey, who has won six scholarships so far, wasn’t expected to excel when doctors diagnosed her with a brain deformity at age 3.

“I have a disability on the left side of my brain and can’t talk right. I didn’t let that hold me back. I kept pushing forward,” she said.

In her final year of high school, Hickey not only pushed forward, but also excelled, earning high grades and stellar ACT test scores. She also volunteered for Horizons Specialized Services and the Boys & Girls Club, where she was recognized as a club member of the year.

“When I was really little, I knew I had problems and couldn’t get through things like other kids did. I didn’t like that feeling. And, I didn’t like when other people let me get by. So, I wanted to push myself and show that I could do it, just like other students,” she said.

Instead of writing an essay, Hickey wrote a letter to the Kiwanis Club Scholarship Committee about her life and the individual education plan that gave her the tools she needed.

In the essay, she wrote that, “If they gave me the scholarship that they wouldn’t be disappointed.”

She has already begun taking classes at CNCC, prerequisites for the dental hygiene program.

“I want to keep striving into that curriculum and see where it takes me,” she said.

Scholarship support means a lot to Hickey.

“It’s a weight off my shoulders to be able to focus on college,” she said, adding, “I would like to thank the Craig community for giving out scholarships to encourage students to strive hard and to get through college. It means a lot to me that we have a community that does this for kids.”

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or