Grace Callard believes in serving others in meaningful ways that make them smile and improve their lives. So, she lends a helping hand to whoever needs one, whether it’s children learning to read, coaching young swimmers working on their technique, or helping educators with duties at the school office.
Callard, this year’s Underwood Law Office Community Leadership Scholarship winner, shares that helping others can look different depending on the situation. But in the end, it is about supporting someone else in ways that can change their lives.
“Providing service can be as simple as volunteering to get a neighbor’s mail while they’re out of town or it can be as involved as organizing a 5k race for a charity. Most importantly, providing service not only will bring meaning to yourself but to those around you. You can gain personal and practical skills and you will make someone else happier,” she writes in her winning scholarship essay.
Grace Callard Helps Children Inside and Outside the Classroom
Callard, a North Carolina native, has spent time developing young people. She volunteered at her old elementary school for the past few years, helping pre-kindergarten children learn to read. Her mother still teaches at the school.
“With pre-k, I have the honor of being able to read with some of the students. I spend roughly an hour after school reading to them to help their engagement, listening skills, and identification skills. I get the pleasure of getting to see these kids grow in their learning. To me, that’s the most meaningful part of volunteering at the school,” she shares in her winning scholarship essay.
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Callard Helps Young Students Realize They Enjoy Reading
The first-year college student is also happy she got to see the children become confident in their reading skills.
“I get to see kids go from being shy and not wanting to read with to fighting over who wants to go first. They are all so much more engaged in the story, and I genuinely think they are all going to be amazing little readers in the next few years.”
The young learners also inspire Callard to be at her best. “I still talk about some of the things the kids at the school said to me while I was volunteering, and I share stories of how much they grew over our time together. I loved my time with them, so it was easy to share what service meant to me,” she says.
Coaching Young Swimmers Is Also Part of Her Service
This past summer, Callard taught young swimmers ages five through ten, giving them tips on good sportsmanship and behavior. Callard often took care of tasks without anyone asking her, says a supporter who wrote a scholarship recommendation letter on Callard’s behalf.
“Her willingness to go above and beyond what was expected makes her stand out from the crowd. Her contribution created a positive ripple effect from the coaches to the swimmers and onto the parents who participated on the summer swim team,” said the supporter.
Callard, who also volunteered with the YMCA and her neighborhood swim team during her high school career, draws her inspiration from others.
“My biggest inspiration comes from those around me. I loved seeing how hard my little pre-k kids worked and they inspired me to work harder. They also showed me that it takes time to achieve your goals but if you put in that time, you’ll be where you want to be before you know it.
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What’s Next for Grace Callard?
Callard says she will use the $1,000 scholarship award from Underwood Law Office toward her studies at Western Carolina University (WCU), where she majors in environmental science with a minor in emergency and disaster management. She expects to complete her studies and graduate in May 2026.
“I am grateful to Underwood Law for helping me achieve my dreams,” she says.
In addition to joining the university’s swim club, she’s also in the process of joining the Jackson County Rescue Squad. During her time with the squad, she will focus on gaining the skills and experience she will need for a career in fire rescue.
“After graduating, I hope to become a firefighter. I hope to attend a fire academy and later become involved in urban search and rescue,” she says.
Underwood Law Office congratulates Grace Callard for receiving our Community Leadership Award. She demonstrates the leadership qualities we look for in applicants and is willing to go the extra mile to help people in her community.
The award is given annually to support young community leaders as they pursue their studies and continue to shape future communities.