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Shelbee Burke Awarded Morris Scholarship

June 16, 2022 | 3 min read

Congratulations to Shelbee Burke, who was awarded the 2022 Dr. M. Rosalind Morris Scholarship by NCHS. 

The scholarship is funded through the generosity of M. Rosalind Morris, who began the scholarship in 2014 because of her strong belief in both education and the work of NCHS. Dr. Morris was a professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from 1947-1990. She was a pioneer in agricultural science and internationally recognized for her work in wheat genetics. Sadly, Dr. Morris was not able to participate in the 2022 scholarship process as she passed away in March, right before her 102nd birthday.

The scholarship is given to two high school seniors who were adopted through NCHS. Recipients must be attending postsecondary institutions in Nebraska, with preference to students majoring in the education, social work, or science fields. The last scholarships will be awarded in 2023, in conjunction with NCHS’ 130th anniversary celebration.

Below is the essay that Shelbee submitted to the scholarship committee. Applicants were asked to answer the questions, “How has NCHS and your adoption experience made a difference in your life? What does ‘family’ mean to you? How do you plan to use your educational experience and training to affect the lives of others? How would this scholarship impact you personally and in your future education?”


“My entire life, I have always been extremely open about my adoption experience and willing to answer any questions that anyone had. Growing up I knew the fact that I was adopted just like I knew my name was Shelbee Burke. I would not be the person I am today without my adoptive parents. They push me to be my absolute best and motivate me to achieve my goals and aspirations. By setting the bar high for me at a young age and constantly supporting me, my parents were able to cultivate a culture of ambition, love, and confidence. They have given me the core values of family, kindness, and being a follower of God which have helped me develop as a person. My adoptive family was able to provide the life for me that my birth parents could not do at the time. I am grateful for the selfless decision my birth mom made choosing adoption, and even more grateful that I got matched with the perfect family for me. My NCHS adoption experience has allowed me to advocate for adoption and educate others on the importance of this.

My cousins often joke that I was always meant to be in their family and that I would not fit in better anywhere else. "Family" means far more than someone I am blood-related to. My family includes everyone that has helped me along my journey to my forever home with my adoptive parents. My birth family, my cradle care family, and my adoptive family have all helped me at various stages of my life and I would not be the person I am today without them. My family gives me support, strength, and care despite my flaws and they love me through everything. To me, family is anyone in my life that is able to love me unconditionally and is willing to go to the ends of the earth for me… and I'd do the same for them. Because of my NCHS adoption, I've been able to understand the meaning of family on a different level than most people. It has allowed me to understand that no matter age, race, or gender, anyone can be your family.

I have been able to tell my story to many people throughout my life and I love being able to help others learn about the amazing process of adoption. When I was younger, I went with my parents to NCHS events to talk to parents who would be adopting about our experiences. This summer I will be speaking about my experience and telling my personal story at an event that promotes foster care and adoption in my town. I am aspiring to pursue a degree in Family and Consumer Science Education. As of right now, I am planning to use this degree to become an FCS teacher at the high school level. Family is at the core of FCS, and I feel that this education will allow me to continue to advocate for adoption to a number of students. My adoption experience actually played a part in the reason why I chose to pursue this degree. I am extremely passionate about FCS and I feel that this degree will allow me to find a job that I will be passionate about; one where I will have the ability to help others and make a positive impact in their life. Adoption has been an extremely important part of my life since I was young. The experiences I have had have helped me become passionate about family which ended up helping me determine my career path.”