Food for thought: Nehalem teen wins $20k scholarship

Nine years ago at the age of ten, Jamey Sherman moved to the U.S. from Liberia with no formal education, speaking very little English and living without running water or electricity in the West African coastal country.

By Ann Powers

A Nehalem family adopted her and today she is one of 10 inaugural recipients earning a $20,000 scholarship from the James Beard Foundation (JBF) National Scholars Program.

Jamey Sherman
Jamey Sherman

With 2016 being the program’s first year in operation, it recognizes top students nationwide demonstrating the potential for leadership roles in culinary arts, food studies, agriculture, hospitality management and related fields.

“My hopes weren’t really high of winning a national scholarship that huge,” she said. “My first reaction was like, are you serious? Don’t mess with me!”

But, the 2016 Neah-Kah-Nie High School (NKNHS) graduate underestimated herself, according to her adoptive mother, Debbie Sherman.

“It’s a really bid deal,” she noted. “Jamey is a rock star.”

Jamey began pursuing her cookery calling by taking courses at Tillamook Bay Community College in Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts while still in high school.

Scholarship XCShe also played on the NKNHS basketball and volleyball teams, graduated with a 3.69 grade point average, won a $3,500 Nehalem Bay United Methodist Church scholarship and earned a Women’s Club of Manzanita-North County Scholarship Award of $1,500.

Jamey said she heads to Oregon Coast Culinary Institute in Coos Bay this fall for an Associates of Arts degree. From there, she hopes to enroll at Southern Oregon University to earn a Bachelors Degree in Hospitality and Tourism.

Her goal is to become a professional pastry chef.

“I like to bake and being in the kitchen and making things up,” she explained. “The hospitality industry is growing and my passion is in culinary.”

Jamey said much of her community college higher education costs are already covered from the scholarship funds she’s earned and the money she’s saved working at Sisters and Pete’s Coffee and Treats in Manzanita.

“She’s going to be an excellent pastry chef,” said Stacey Diehl, the shop’s owner. “She’s driven. She’s got a plan and sticking with it.”

To ensure diversity, JBF officials said one awardee is selected from each of the ten geographic regions defined by the Foundation in a variety of fields.

“The National Scholars Program supports a diverse group of students exploring virtually every educational discipline, whether that be history, anthropology, economics, management, or the sciences—as viewed through the lens of food,” said Kris Moon, JBF vice president.

According to the organization’s website, the Foundation was established in 1986 to pay tribute and continue the work of the late James Beard – a “pioneer foodie” whose passion helped pave the way for food movements. The National Scholars Program joins a robust collection of JBF services supporting culinary education, dialogue and publications.

Applications for next year’s $20,000 award will be available online starting April 1, 2017. For more information visit