FARMINGTON — Veronica Manasco, a first-year student at the University of Maine at Farmington, was recently honored at the 2015 Mitchell Institute Fall Gala with the distinguished Paddy Frank Walsh Pioneer Scholar Award.

Pioneer scholars are specially selected Mitchell Scholars who show great promise in terms of citizenship, scholarship, perseverance and have overcome tremendous obstacles to achieving success.

Manasco was one of only 34 out of 2,400 Mitchell scholars and alumni to be specially recognized at this year’s gala.

“Veronica’s intellect, strong connection to her family and great resilience made her a natural selection for the Paddy Frank Walsh Pioneer Award. We are proud to count her among our Mitchell scholars and look forward to helping her achieve her dreams,” said Meg Baxter, president and CEO of the Mitchell Institute.

In addition to this award, Manasco has also been named a 2015 Mitchell Scholar, 2015 Horatio Alger Maine Scholar and 2015 Dell Scholar — three prestigious awards that provide ongoing support and assistance to help students overcome adversity on the road to higher education.

Originally from Poplar Bluff, Mo., Manasco moved to the Canaan area of Maine eight years ago with her mother, stepfather, younger sister and two brothers, to be closer to family. She started sixth grade in Clinton Elementary and helped her mom care for her ailing grandmother.

Finding affordable living accommodations was a constant challenge, and they sometimes found themselves homeless, taking shelter for a time in a tent or a car. Manasco’s love for learning and desire to be an example for her siblings helped her succeed.

As a rising junior at Lawrence High School, she became involved with Upward Bound, a federally funded program that provides fundamental support to students to prepare for and succeed in college. Though her home life was sometimes unpredictable, she persevered and did well at school.

In her last two years in high school, she completed four Advanced Placement courses in addition to making the honor roll every quarter.

In her senior year she visited more than 20 college campuses, but decided on UMF, a place she said felt like home. Now majoring in biology at UMF, Manasco has her sights set on being a doctor. She volunteered as an aid for six weeks this past summer in the emergency room at Franklin Memorial Hospital and loved the opportunity to provide help and support to people in need.

At the Mitchell Gala, she was seated at a table of doctors who understood her passion for helping others. “I am so grateful for all the kindness and support I’ve received,” said Manasco. “Through all this I have learned to appreciate what I have, to work hard for what I want and to be the best person I can be.”

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