Pearl, Miner both receive Estabrook awards

BRANDON — The John Seeley Estabrook Memorial Trust recently presented its annual Estabrook Award to two remarkable and outstanding recipients, Emily Merkert Pearl and Jacob Miner. The awards were presented at a reception at the Brandon Public Library on July 29.
In her speech recognizing Emily Merkert Pearl at the reception, Nancy Bunting brought attention to the fact that if there is one problem America has had to face in recent years, it is the sad outcomes that can result from untreated mental illness and the realization that a large portion of the American population struggles with mental health issues.
The John Seeley Estabrook Trust recognized their first recipient who has been and will be devoting herself to this field. Emily Merkert Pearl, the daughter of Molly and Fred Merkert of Sudbury, is that person.
As a child, Merkert Pearl used artistic expression to process feelings and topics that weren’t openly discussed, like “body image, self-concept, gender expectations, peer and family relationships, sexuality, and difficult emotions.” As a junior in high school she learned about the field of art therapy.
Merkert Pearl graduated from Otter Valley Union High School in 2006 as the salutatorian of her class. She went on to study at Alfred University, earning her bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts in 2010; to Rasmussen College to earn her Child Development Associate for the infant-toddler age group in 2013; and then to Lesley University, earning her master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a specialization in Art Therapy in 2017. She is currently a rostered psychotherapist working as a School Services Clinician at Edmunds Middle School in Burlington; she is in the process of pursuing licensure as a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor and Art Therapist.
It is apparent from her resumé that Merkert Pearl has combined her academics with a constant application of her learning through internship and career choices. She has worked with a wide variety of populations to support individuals’ understanding of and ability to manage their mental health. She worked with college freshmen and international students during her time at Alfred University, focusing on creating a sense of belonging and a safe space to process feelings associated with homesickness and change.
She has worked with infant-toddlers and their parents in daycare and transitional housing settings, focusing on identifying, expressing, and managing emotions, and using these skills along with open communication to improve mental health. She worked with adults in outpatient, home, and day treatment program settings, working on daily living skills and running a popular series of art therapy-based groups for up to 12 adults that included themes like perspective-taking, managing anger and difficult emotions, the power of playfulness, challenging self-judgment, developing self-compassion, and shifting life narratives. For the past two years she has worked with adolescents and their families in outpatient, home, and school settings, and much of her work centers on awareness of emotions and thought patterns, how to manage these, and how they impact overall wellness.
“More and more, it appears that practitioners in the fields of mental and physical health are working together to support a more holistic view of what health looks like,” Merkert Pearl said. “It is heartening to see things moving in this direction, as I have experienced the profound impact art can have on one’s well-being.”
If it can be said that a person has a calling, then truly it can be said of Emily Merkert Pearl.
Jacob Miner is the other 2018 John Seeley Estabrook Memorial Trust Award recipient. Jacob is the son of Lynn and Ed Miner of Forestdale, and a graduate this year from Otter Valley. He will be attending Boston University in the fall with a double major in Biology and Chinese language.
Miner has been an increasingly prominent actor in the musicals as well as the one act plays produced by the Walking Stick Theatre at Otter Valley, a troupe that is recognized statewide and throughout New England. Additionally, Miner includes participation in many vocal performances at Otter Valley as well as the All State Choir and District Choir in his resumé.
Miner stands out for his character and leadership and his drive to push himself harder, and give of himself as well, as he follows a dream of entering the medical field.
Miner has lived out those traits, first in his community service, where he has achieved over 140 hours at the Rutland Regional Medical Center (RRMC) in the past two years, and coordinated a Red Cross Blood Drive this year. As class president this year at Otter Valley, he was instrumental in coordinating a major fundraising event for the senior class, all while attending Castleton University full time in an Early College Program opportunity. In acknowledgment for his volunteer service, Miner is the recipient of the Rutland Regional Medical Center Volunteer Service Recognition, President’s Volunteer Service Award, and has received the Otter Valley Teacher’s Association Citizenship Award.
The second way Miner exemplifies the traits of leadership and drive is his academic performance. Miner enrolled in a rigorous pursuit of science courses throughout his career at Otter Valley, including AP (advanced placement) Biology with dual enrollment through Castleton University. This year Miner has just completed his senior year at Otter Valley while studying at Castleton University through their Early College Program.
His experience at RRMC allowed him to shadow various fields and enabled him to recognize where his own talents would be best put to use. Miner is a people person, and it’s interacting with patients one on one that calls him into a career as a physician’s assistant. His major in Biology will be the first step in following that path. His double major with the Chinese language was inspired by the opportunity he had to study Chinese while at Otter Valley, and he hopes to put that unique skill to use in his career as well.
Miner has the ability to carry an impressive load all while maintaining a positive attitude, exuberance, and a willingness to push himself to pursue his goals. Please join us in congratulating Miner as one of the 2018 John Seeley Estabrook Memorial Trust Award recipients.
The John Seeley Estabrook Memorial Trust was established in 1986 to give recognition to outstanding residents of Brandon and the surrounding areas served by Dr. Estabrook in his practice. The award is given to those who are presently pursuing activities in the fields of medicine and/or sports. The award memorializes a Brandon physician who excelled in both medicine and athletics as is evidenced by the fact that among his many honors were induction into the Athletic Hall of Fame and being named Doctor of the Year by the University of Vermont.
John Seeley Estabrook came from a Vermont medical family that spanned over 150 years of service to the people of the Green Mountain State. He is remembered, as the award notes, as one who “elevated the practice of medicine to friendship and deep neighborly concern. With his quiet self-effacing humor and abiding personal integrity he touched our lives in ways that none of us will be able — or want — to forget.”

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