BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Carol Levasseur Memorial Scholarship Award was presented to two seniors in the Health Occupations Program at Somerset County Vocational & Technical High School.  

Kayla Agins, of Raritan, and Mackenzie Trotter, of Somerset, were chosen for the scholarship because of their dedicated participation in the arts. Both students have been members of the Linkages Music & Poetry Circle at SCVTHS since its inception in January 2014. For many years, they have been learning songs, singing, writing poetry and playing guitar.

The Linkages Music and Poetry Circle was established by SCVTHS Educational Technology Department staff member and musician Sharleen Leahey with the support and guidance of Linkages Administrator, Elaine Howe and Linkages Recreation Coordinator/Youth Development Specialist Isaiah Davenport. A School-Based Youth Services Program funded by the NJ Division of Children and Families, Linkages has been providing wellness services in the form of counseling, education and recreation for students at SCVTHS since 1988.

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Agins and Trotter received the award at a ceremony held at the school, which was attended by Leahey, Howe, Linkages Counselor Dr. Cathy Bladt and family members of the two students.

The Carol Levasseur Memorial Scholarship Award was established in 2012 to give encouragement, recognition and financial assistance to deserving high school students who have chosen to pursue their studies in the arts. Sharleen Leahey created the award in 2012 to honor the memory of her partner Carol Levasseur, a gifted landscape painter, who passed away after a year long struggle with cancer. Levasseur was an active member of the Raritan Valley Art Association in Bridgewater who exhibited her work in galleries throughout Central New Jersey. Her paintings of forests, flowers, animals and rivers reflect the reverence she felt for the natural world.

Agins, who will be attending Raritan Valley Community College in the fall, plans to become a Neo-Natal Nurse Practitioner. When asked how her participation in the Linkages Music and Poetry Circle helped with her Health Occupations studies at SCVTHS, she said: “Music has directly led me to my career path because the arts are a form of healing. Music and poetry have never let anyone down. Music and poetry always lend a helping hand. That’s what I want to be, a helping hand.”

Trotter also plans to attend Raritan Valley Community College and pursue a career as a nurse. When asked how the Music and Poetry Circle has influenced her career path, she said: “Participating in the Linkages arts program here at school has shown me that music has healing powers. Having the knowledge to provide support from a medical standpoint as well as having coping mechanisms through my music will be beneficial not only to me but to my future patients and their families as well.”

As they continue to gain confidence as singers, guitarists and writers, both students intend to be active in the music scene when they get to Raritan Valley Community College to continue their medical studies in the fall. In the not too distant future there’s a good chance that Agins and Trotter will be singing on a stage or in a song circle, guitars in hand, to help heal the world.

For more information on the Carol Levasseur Memorial Scholarship Award, contact Sharleen Leahey at 908-526-8900, ext. 7267 or

For more information on the Linkages Program at SCVTHS, contact Linkages Administrator Elaine Howe at 908-526-8900, ext. 7286 or