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  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom


    Nashua High School North senior Jennifer Wright talks Monday, February 20, 2012, about the scholarships she has won. The co-founder and president of the volunteer organization "Together Against Domestic Abuse," is hoping to fund most of her college tuition through scholarships.


  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom


    Nashua High School North senior Jennifer Wright talks Monday, February 20, 2012, about the scholarships she has won. The co-founder and president of the volunteer organization Together Against Domestic Abuse is hoping to fund most of her college tuition through scholarships.


  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom


    Nashua High School North senior Jennifer Wright talks Monday, February 20, 2012, about the scholarships she has won. The co-founder and president of the volunteer organization Together Against Domestic Abuse is hoping to fund most of her college tuition through scholarships.


  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom


    Nashua High School North senior Jennifer Wright.


  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom


    Nashua High School North senior Jennifer Wright talks Monday, February 20, 2012, about the scholarships she has won. The co-founder and president of the volunteer organization "Together Against Domestic Abuse," is hoping to fund most of her college tuition through scholarships.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Nashua North student earns national scholarships for community service

NASHUA – As a child, Jennifer Wright was abused by her father. The attacks were not physical, but that didn’t make them any less hurtful.

“I thought he was just an awful guy that was really mean,” said Wright, who is now 18. “But I learned later that what was he doing was actually abusive.”

Her father left when she was 12. She doesn’t know where he went or where he is now. She’s not interested in having a relationship with him, she said.

Instead, Wright, a Nashua High School North senior, has put her energy into community service.

When she was 15, she co-founded Together Against Domestic Abuse with her friend, Joella Stossel, of Merrimack.

The organization raises awareness about domestic abuse and bullying in school. Wright and Stossel travel to local schools and businesses to hand out brochures, talk to students and offer self-defense seminars.

Wright won two scholarships this month for her work with the organization. She was named one of 250 Coca-Cola scholars nationwide on Friday and received $10,000 toward her college tuition. Earlier in February, she won New Hampshire’s Prudential Spirit of Community award, which honors one middle-school and high-school student from each state for their volunteer efforts.

It’s a lot of work on top of her school and other service responsibilities, but Wright said the passion and effort she puts into the organization, as well as the conversations with other abused teens, has helped heal some of the wounds from her childhood.

“It’s such a touchy subject and no one ever talks about it, but I wanted to bring more awareness to it,” she said.

The Prudential award comes with a $1,000 scholarship and a trip to Washington, D.C., to meet the other winners and explore the nation’s capital. At the ceremony, she also could be picked as one of five high-school students in the country to win an additional $5,000 for her college and $5,000 more for the charity of her choice.

For Together Against Domestic Abuse, Wright coordinates volunteers, writes a newsletter, schedules the speaking events, hands out brochures, and manages the organization’s website and Facebook page.

Wright and Stossel go to about 10 schools each semester to speak about domestic abuse, although Stossel is now at college and can’t attend every event.

Wright talks to hundreds of students in different schools across Greater Nashua and Manchester. Most of the kids respond well, she said, and Together Against Domestic Abuse is starting to get some recognition.

“It’s been doing really well,” she said. “People are starting to recognize the name and contact us after school.”

Wright has her sights aimed high. She applied to nine colleges, but her top two choices are Bryant University and Babson College. She was accepted at Bryant, but she’s holding out hope for Babson.

However, her mother can’t co-sign any college loans with her, which means the most Wright can apply for is $8,500. With the additional scholarships from several schools, she hopes to afford her first-choice schools.

Wright plans to major in business management and continue her work with Together Against Domestic Abuse. Her mother runs a small business out of their home, and seeing that effort firsthand has propelled her into the business field.

“Whatever you put into it, you get out of it,” she said. “It’s a risky job, but a steady job.”

Wright has more interviews scheduled for additional scholarships, including another $10,000 award handed out to the best young entrepreneurs in the country.

How she balances everything – running her organization, working at H&R Block, riding horses, and reading everything from “The Hunger Games” to Charles Dickens – amazes her family and friends.

Principal David Ryan said Wright sets an incredible example for other students at North.

“She’s persistent in what she wants to get from her education,” he said. “She’s a terrific kid.”

Cameron Kittle can be reached at 594-6523 or ckittle@nashuatelegraph.com.