Jordan Shelley, 18, stands outside his home in Greenbank. He recently received the Sydney S. McIntyre Jr Scholarship from Skagit Valley College to go toward his tuition at the University of Washington. Shelley will pursue his childhood dream of becoming a doctor. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News Group

Jordan Shelley, 18, stands outside his home in Greenbank. He recently received the Sydney S. McIntyre Jr Scholarship from Skagit Valley College to go toward his tuition at the University of Washington. Shelley will pursue his childhood dream of becoming a doctor. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News Group

SVC grad earns full 2-year scholarship to UW

A lot has changed since Jordan Shelley was 7 years old and his father died in his birth country of Ethiopia. One thing has not: Shelley’s desire to become a doctor and help people like his father.

“With the amazing medical facilities that are here (in the U.S.), he would’ve been healed,” Shelley, 18, said, sitting outside his Greenbank home. “But instead, the infection spread to the rest of his body and he died when I was about 7 and a half. That was something that really touched my heart.”

He’ll be closer to his goal after he completes his last classes at Skagit Valley College on June 16 with a scholarship for two years of full tuition and a stipend for books and rent at the University of Washington.

Shelley recently received the Sydney S. McIntyre Jr. Memorial Scholarship, the college’s largest scholarship.

“When they said my name, I freaked out,” he said. “My body actually froze and when I stood up, my knees almost gave out.”

His adoptive parents, Teresa and Lanny Shelley, were with him. His mother home schooled Jordan and his six siblings until they reached fourth grade.

Shelley took fifth grade at Coupeville High School, skipped sixth grade and then took classes through Oak Harbor Public School’s HomeConnection.

He completed his last two years of high school while simultaneously completing his associate’s degree through Running Start at SVC.

“It doesn’t matter what he does, he does his best at it—even if he hates it,” Teresa Shelley said.

The Shelleys adopted Jordan and his younger siblings Simon and Banchegize from an orphanage in Ethiopia and brought them to their home on Whidbey Island in 2008. He was 8 years old and didn’t speak English. It was January, and when the plane landed there was snow on the ground, which he had never seen before.

“It wasn’t difficult, it was different,” Jordan said of transitioning to his new life.

His mother said he wasn’t sure what to do with his food, and it took him a while to grasp that he could have as much as he wanted, but other than that he adapted easily to life on the island.

“This is amazing,” Jordan said as he pointed around him. “The greenery, the birds, the water— I never got this in Ethiopia.”

Teresa Shelley said right away he excelled in academics and always demonstrated gratitude for his lessons. He especially liked his math lessons, she said.

“He thanked me for his maths every day,” she said.

Jordan said his mother’s stories from working as registered nurse in labor and delivery also motivated him to pursue a career in medicine, particularly anesthesiology.

Her stories of women in pain during labor being helped by anesthesiologists peaked his interest.

“They’re like the caped superheroes of the hospital,” he said. “I wanted to be that … They have the power and the knowledge, mainly knowledge, to be able to help people out when they’re in pain.”

During his time at the college, he’s also job shadowed Dr. David Mourning, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in back, neck and spine injuries and conditions. Mourning told Jordan about a patient who was in so much pain that he couldn’t walk, but after a surgery on his spine and short recovery, he was able to walk again and drive himself home.

“To be able to have that power, that ability to make such a difference in someone’s life— I think that’s inspiring,” Jordan said.

He has dreamed about going to the UW since he visited it in fifth grade, he said. He also dreamed of playing collegiate soccer, but he said he gave up the sport his sophomore year of high school to focus more on his studies.

“As you get older you start realizing what’s a dream and what’s reality,” he said. “And for me, trying to reach the medical field while trying to play soccer at the same time was the dream, and focusing on my education 100 percent was the reality.”

Jordan said in addition to his academics, he’s always worked to be as financially independent as possible. He said he’s been doing odd jobs, like yard work, since he was 8 years old. Later this month he will leave to work on a commercial fishing boat in Alaska, something he said he’s wanted to do for years.

He lined up the job before he knew he received the scholarship, but he’s glad the money will be able to go toward transportation and other expenses now that he knows his education, room and board, and books will be paid for.

“It relieves so much stress,” he said. “Because of this scholarship I don’t have to worry about the next two years of my education pretty much … I couldn’t be any more thankful for them giving me this opportunity.”

More in News

Screaming monkey | Island Scanner

The following items were selected from reports made to the Island County… Continue reading

It’s all in the family

‘They end up getting all of us, even though they saw only one of us’

Hannold, St. Clair face off for District 3 seat

Island County commissioner candidate Janet St. Clair said that if elected, she’ll… Continue reading

Town to decide 2 percent grants

The Town of Coupeville is in the process of deciding which nonprofits… Continue reading

County commissioners to focus on economic development

Having recently adopted a major update to the housing element, Island County… Continue reading

Shifty Sailors celebrating 25th anniversary

The maritime-themed musical group Shifty Sailors will celebrate their 25th anniversary with… Continue reading

State seeks input for civilian-military compatibility plan

Washington State Department of Commerce says it is drafting a Washington State… Continue reading

DNA leads to charges against burglary suspect

DNA evidence led to a criminal charge being filed against a man… Continue reading

Photo by Maria Matson/Whidbey News Group.
                                <em>Cornet Bay Company owners Arnie and Joanne Deckwa stand with their new seafood line of sauces. In the background, painted on their RV is the company’s logo depicting Cornet Bay, the view across from their office.</em>
Walmart picks up Cornet Bay Co.’s sauces

Though it’s been producing and selling gourmet sauces, dressing, seasonings and dips… Continue reading

Most Read