CHSA Awards Three
Scholarships

By
George Jensen

The
Board of Directors of CHSA is pleased to announce the awarding of three
scholarships in the amount of $1,500 each to Jenna Burns of Deep River, Jessica
Gross of Ledyard and Christen Scarpa of Mystic.  This is the third time that Christen has received a CHSA
scholarship.  Jenna and Jessica are
both former recipients of the CHSA Good Sportsmanship Award. 

Each
year, CHSA awards scholarships to those deserving members who wish to continue
their education beyond the secondary level.  The scholarships are funded through member contributions and
the proceeds from CHSA Finals and the auction and raffle at the Year End
Banquet as well as contributions from the CHSA operating funds.  The amount and number of scholarships
is directly dependent on the availability of funds from these sources.


Jenna Burns
 

Jenna Burns

Jenna
is a graduate of Valley Regional High School.  She is attending the University of Connecticut, where she
will study nursing, with the hope of eventually becoming a registered nurse.
The importance of education to her has outlasted many different obstacles and
difficulties in her life.  In the
winter of her eighth grade she was diagnosed with leukemia.  While many patients must repeat a
school year, she has maintained a 3.9 GPA in
rigorous courses while at the same time battling leukemia.

Jenna has not had the
typical high school experience. Her strength was tested early in her high
school career and she often had to miss school during draining chemotherapy sessions
in her sophomore year. She worked outside of school with tutors when her immune
system was too weak for her to be in the halls during cold and flu season.
Jenna had to sacrifice membership in clubs and sports during this time while
her health, understandably, became the prime focus.

Jenna has put her treatments
behind her and now has more time to focus ly on being a “typical”
student. Only there is still nothing “typical” about Jenna. While
still in high school she excelled academically, was involved with the school
chorus, was a member of the Opera Club and SPEAK (Students Promoting Equality
Activism and Knowledge). She also had more time to participate in her true
passion, horseback riding.  Jenna
has used her experience in horse competitions and riding by volunteering at a
local organization, High Hopes, a place that helps children facing adversity in
their lives to connect with the sport.

Jenna
became hooked on showing horses when she was three and still
“splitting” her lesson with her older sister.  She entered my first horse show at age
4 on her lesson horse “Lucky” and was ecstatic to win a beautiful
pink ribbon. She really got addicted when she received her very own first
horse, Illiad, for my tenth birthday. Illiad was a former Region 16 Arabian
Western Pleasure Champion looking for a retirement home; he was a
“Pro” in the show world and truly taught her how to ride.

They
used to spend hours riding bareback in the pastures at her barn.  One day she showed her Mom how she and
Illiad could jump bareback over the little stream that ran through the
pasture.  The next thing she knew
she had been signed up for jumping lessons! She and Illiad began attending
schooling shows.  Even though she
didn’t know what she was doing, Illiad did. Consequently, they won some
ribbons.

She
and her mother began looking for a local organization that was competitive, yet
friendly and safe, but fun; which is when they found CHSA!  She and Illiad had a great time showing
that year.   However, after
the season ended, Illiad had to be put down due to complications from Cushings.
When the CHSA year-end standings came out, Jessica was surprised to learn that
Illiad had earned a 5t‘ place Honorable Mention in Arabian Western
Pleasure. She attended her first CHSA Year End Award Banquet and proudly picked
up Illiad’s ribbon.

Her
second horse, an energetic PMU rescue named Herbie, proved to be more of a
challenge which made ribbons even more valuable.  When CHSA added special PMU classes to some of their shows,
she rode in almost all of them.  She
and Herbie were just starting to become a successful team when she was
diagnosed with leukemia. It was impossible to keep up with the demands
necessary to show. During treatment she still attended shows but only to help
her sister compete. That year when she attended the CHSA Year End Awards
ceremony, she was disappointed that she wouldn’t be receiving any awards.  However, her family and friends
surprised her by nominating her for the CHSA Good Sportsmanship Award which she
was thrilled to receive!

Currently, she has a
horse named Dodge who will be competing on the CHSA circuit as well as in
Arabian Shows. Although her show “career” has progressed to bigger,
overnight shows, she still loves local shows the best. She grew up with CHSA. While
competing with CHSA, she has encountered setbacks, started over on new horses,
conquered fears, handled defeat and experienced triumph.  She chose the University of Connecticut
because it is close to home and allows her to continue riding and showing Dodge
at the CHSA events.

The nurses that cared for Jenna during
her treatment have, without doubt, affected her life forever.   She says she would like to pass
on to someone else the same comfort and hope that they gave to her and her
family.  She believes everyone has
the chance to positively affect the life of another.  By becoming a nurse, she thinks she will be able to
accomplish this goal over and over. 

Jessica Gross and Little Buddy rv
 

Jessica
Gross

All her life, college has been a goal that she has set
for herself, not because her grandfather threatened to send her to military
school if she didn’t go (although that may have given her a little incentive),
but because she wants to be able to gain as much knowledge as she could in an
area that she loves.  Jessica
graduated from Ledyard High School and entered Cazenovia (New York) College
where she plans to major in Equine Business Management.   With this major she hopes to find
the area in the equine world that interests her most, whether it is in nutrition,
training, breeding, or whatever else might spark her interest.  Jessica also chose this major because,
if for some unknown reason she decided that horses weren’t for her anymore, she
would have the business management part of her major as a back up which she
could use in the business world.

A highly motivated young woman, Jessica has
proven her willingness to give of herself to others. She was actively involved
with Student Congress where she was instrumental in planning spirit week, pep
rallies, blood drives and turkey baskets. 
Jessica’s had a passion to be an effective and responsive member of this
organization by seeking out a diverse array of students’ thoughts, concerns and
opinions and then communicating them to Student Congress.  Jessica has a polite and pleasant
demeanor and she interacts well with both her peers and adults, character
traits which should help her achieve great things in her life. She also was the
student chairperson of the Ledyard High School Agricultural Science and Future
Farmers of America Horse Show. 

 After
about a year of riding, her trainer suggested that she join the barn at a horse
show to see if competing was something in which she would be interested.  Following the show she talked to her
mom. They decided that Jessica would ride in the next show, a Southern New
England Horsemen’s Association (SNEHA) show.  She would ride in the Hunt Seat Walk-Trot division. At this
show, each division had an equitation, pleasure and trail class. For her first
equitation class, she wanted to look her best:  polished boots, ironed jacket and shirt, clean helmet, heels
down, looking up, shoulders back, sitting up nice and tall, correct diagonals,
the whole nine yards.

 When
the first class was over, the competitors lined up in the middle of the
ring.  The ringmaster started
calling the placings for the class, starting with sixth. Placing after placing
were called; Jessica’s name and number were not called. Although she was  a little upset, she knew it was her
first show and that she probably wasn’t going to do so well. Then the
ringmaster called first place – Jessica Gross!  She ended that day as Reserve Champion in her division.  That was it!  She told her mom that showing was what she wanted to do all
summer.  And that’s what she’s been
doing for seven years.  Presently
she shows hunters and dressage with CHSA affiliated shows.

Scarpa jumping rv
 

 Christen
Scarpa

Christen has entered her Junior year at
Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut.  This past year was a very exciting one for her.  She worked very hard and earned a 3.4
GPA in the last semester.

Christen is making every effort to help pay for
her education through scholarships and working. During the last school year she
worked eight hours per week for the Director of Development & Alumni
Affairs in the Quinnipiac University School of Law, through the Work Study
program. She is planning to do this again this year. She worked two jobs this
past summer, while balancing her riding and showing.

Christen’s involvement with horses and riding
began when she was 13 years old and took her first riding lesson. This activity
quickly became a passion which led to her owning and caring for her own
horse.  Then she progressed to
showing.  She believes that showing
horses was a natural progression from taking riding lessons.  She knows that some people enjoy horses
and riding, for the social nature of the activity.  But for Christen, it is more than just a social outlet.  Riding and showing continually compels
her to work hard to better her riding and herself. The happiest time of year
for her is when the summer show season is in full swing.

 Her first horse show
experience was a schooling horse show at Mystic Valley Hunt Club, where she was
taking lessons.  She rode an old
barn school horse named Hershey. 
She was excited when first dressing in a hunt coat.  She very nervous when she entered the
ring. And, she remembers the feeling of total satisfaction, excitement and
pride when Hershey and she earned a 6th place ribbon that day.  She was on Cloud Nine and she was
hooked.

 Showing horses has
taught her the value of hard work, dedication and the successes that can be
earned as a result.  She has also
learned firsthand the sadness and frustration when things don’t go as one wants
them to, and empathy for others who experience the same problems. Through
riding, she has grown as a person and in self-confidence and self-esteem. She
feels fortunate to have been able to take part in this great sport. 

 All
of this is very expensive.  When
she was 14 years old, she began selling beaded eye glass chains to help with
some of the expenses. While, initially, her entrepreneurial adventure (Goggle
Grabbers) was out of necessity, she quickly learned how much she enjoyed the
whole process of creating and marketing a product.  She said, “ I think that my college marketing major picked
me!”

 Continuing
education is essential for Christen to achieve her career objective of working
in the marketing industry.  The
rigorous program at the Quinnipiac University School of Business should
certainly prepare her for a career in business.  With the skills she will acquire from her four years of
education at Quinnipiac University, she will have laid the groundwork for a
successful and enjoyable career in the business world in which she hopes to
incorporate her equestrian passion.