UMass student grabs scholarships after academic turnaround

Jun 14, 2018

With a smirk and a small laugh, Colin O'Malley on Thursday asked if he could get a photo taken on the ladder of a Marion fire truck. That didn't happen.

Although he didn't mount the ladder for a snapshot, O'Malley has been climbing lately. Between his senior year at Old Rochester Regional High School and freshman year at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, his grades shot up.

A 3.0-turned-3.9 grade point average chemical engineering major, O'Malley was awarded the 2017 MEMBERS' Marion Firefighters Association Scholarship for $600.

Association secretary Jody Auld said that O'Malley's application impressed the scholarship committee in a five-person pool. On some occasions in years past, some students had their parents fill out the document.

"He seemed like he could use it the most," she said. "He seemed the most serious."

So far, O'Malley has received two scholarships for his academic achievements. Several months back, he received a $1,000 Marion Local Scholarship from the town.

With his recent academic success, O'Malley believes that college has made him more driven.

"Part of it was my setting," said O'Malley. "Being able to see everything I did reduce my GPA so now I'm trying to stop that."

Arnold Briggs, treasurer of the Association, O'Malley's success at Lowell influenced the scholarship committee to raise the award to $1,000 for two students.