Fourteen-year-old Draper resident Jacqueline Cockrell was just one-year-old the last time she had a severe reaction to peanuts, but this hasn’t stopped her older brother Nicholas from looking out for her and alerting others to her life-threatening allergy.
“He always reads the food labels and tells me if I can eat it and will bring me something if it isn’t cross-contaminated,” Jacqueline said. “He knows I won’t go near the food — that I can’t take a chance.”
Nicholas, a senior at Hillcrest High in Midvale, grew up knowing how to help his sister. He learned how to use an EpiPen and would tell others not to eat foods with nuts around Jacqueline.
It is, in part, this devotion that led the Hope Paige company to honor Nicholas with a $5,500 “Herb it Forward” college scholarship.
Hope Paige is a company that offers medical alert items, including the silicone allergy alert bracelets Jacqueline wears. Shelly Fisher, CEO of Hope Paige Medical ID, was inspired by her father, Herb Lotman, a self-made businessman whose lifetime was dedicated to helping others.
“The ‘Herb it Forward’ Scholarship was created to educate those future leaders who will continue to pay it forward,” says Fisher. “We want to help them in their educational pursuits since education is the one gift that can’t be taken away from you.”
As for Nicholas, he would like to serve others in the public sector.
“By getting into the world of politics, I believe I can devote my life to helping people and add positive change to the negative perception of government,” said Nicholas, who plans to study history and political science in college. “I believe that this scholarship will allow me to pursue an education that would put me on a path to a job where I could serve others. I believe that a job in the government would allow me to pay it forward to all members of society.”
He began helping his sister at a young age.
“When they were younger, he would always be double-checking the snacks, say at a church youth group outing, for her because Jacqueline was so shy,” their father Bruce Cockrell said. “He was really protective and wanted to make sure she was safe.”
With the help of her older brother, Nicholas, Jacqueline Cockrell has stayed clear of having any additional peanut allergic reactions. Nicholas was rewarded with a scholarship for helping his sister. Photo courtesy of the Cockrell family
Nicholas learned about the scholarship when his mother, Tiffani Moser, found it on the Hope Paige website. After filing an application in December that asked for his academic record, activities, goals and essay questions about his sister and how he helped her, he was notified on Feb. 2 that he was one of the finalists nationwide.
After a mid-February interview, he took a call right before his theater class Feb. 24, alerting him that he was one of five students to receive the top amount awarded.
Fifteen students nationwide received the award. Five initially received $500; five received $1,000 and five, including Nicholas, received $5,000. Each winner later was notified that it would be bumped up an additional $500 from donations that were split evenly amongst the recipients.
“I was extremely excited about it. It’s incredible that I’m one of the top recipients,” he said.
Incredible is a word Hillcrest Principal Sue Malone uses to describe Nicholas.
“He is an incredible young man,” Malone said. “He’s brilliant, he’s kind, he has a bubbly personality that is always positive. He’s involved in so many activities. He’s our Sterling Scholar in social studies. He’s very, very bright, but just so incredibly kind.”
In addition to being named his school’s top social studies student, Nicholas is involved with the school’s theater department, including its production team, Shakespeare team, an actor in the school’s musicals and plays and participant in the state contests. He participates in History Day Fairs and last year, with his teammates, Nicholas took fifth in the national contest and received a special award.
Along with his teammates, Nicholas won the Tech Student Association state contest in 2014 and 2015, and this year they will compete at the national contest in Dallas in late June. Nicholas has participated in Close Up Foundation’s political science workshops in Washington, D.C.
He also is a Canyons Film Festival multiple winner, and last year participated with his team at the national competition for Future Business Leaders of America.
Nicholas, who maintains a 4.0 grade-point average, is president of the school’s international baccalaureate program and the school’s Key Club; he has competed for Hillcrest in mock trial and debate teams, is a Salvation Army volunteer and will receive the Boy Scout’s Eagle rank this spring.
He also is involved in his church youth group, having been its president in 2014 and has traveled on relief mission trips to Joplin, Mo., where he provided aid after a tornado; assisting an impoverished town in South Dakota and helped serve on a Native American reservation.
Jacqueline, who performs in school musicals, also plays piano, is involved in her church youth group and hand bell choir, and has been a Girl Scout for 10 years. She also is involved in the community, teaching Girl Scouts, school children and community groups about allergies. She also helps with the Utah Food Allergy Network and in April, volunteered with an allergy-free Easter egg hunt.