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September 2015 Check Presentation

Monday, December 7, 2015

merkert check presentationWhen a ray of sunshine enters a room, it brightens and warms everyone inside, and illuminates everything to make it clearer and more understandable. It nurtures every flower and plant in the room, helping it to grow and blossom.

At Polk State College, that ray of sunshine is student Shirley Merkert. This amazing and outstanding individual makes wonderful things happen inside the classroom and out, and she has had a positive impact on the lives of others that cannot be measured. Most recently, her generosity has been evident in a very meaningful gift to Polk State College Foundation, helping students to make their career dreams come true, and achieve their full potential.

Whether she is excelling in her career field – she is a top engineer — or diligently tutoring students in the Polk State College French class that she regularly attends — Merkert gives it everything she has, and then some.

Shirley has immersed herself in the French program at Polk State College, helping to make a difference for students. It is her love for France that keeps her visiting the classroom, and she has become an irreplaceable asset to the learning experience there. She not only has a passion for French that she eagerly shares with others, but she consistently thinks about the well-being of the students, and has become the unofficial tutor of Professor Barberet’s classes. Everyone who interacts with her has the utmost love and admiration for her. Her French Professor, John Barbaret, described her as a truly remarkable woman and complimented her strong will, sharp mind and frankness.

The major impact that Shirley has had on the French program at Polk State is not limited to conveying the language to students, but to the cultural experience of France. She is skilled at preparing French cuisine and has assisted Professor Barberet for the past several years in concocting an all-French dining experience for the students, as well as being a valuable participant on the Study Abroad trip.

In addition to the important role she has played to help grow the College’s international program, Shirley Merkert has profoundly impacted the Nursing program at Polk by establishing the Kathleen Merkert Endowed Nursing Scholarship in honor of her late sister. This transformational gift enables Nursing students to attain their dreams of a nursing career, and also helps to save lives as Polk’s nursing graduates live out their dream in the healthcare industry.

On September 28, 2015, at a check presentation ceremony at the Polk State College Board of Trustees meeting, Shirley Merkert was honored. She was recognized for all she has done for her fellow students and for the international program at Polk, and for her generous gift of $15,000 to establish the Kathleen Merkert Endowed Nursing Scholarship, as well as to advance French programs at Polk State. Attending the ceremony was Shirley and her parents, Rod and Penny Merkert, who helped shape her into the person she is today. She was praised warmly and with heartfelt gratitude for all she has done to positively impact the lives of others in our community.