Senior Scholarships at Arapahoe High School


Graduate Graduation Teen High School Student

Megan Nguyen, Herald Reporter

Four seniors at Arapahoe High School received full 4-5 year tuition scholarships at a variety of colleges through hard work, determination, and outstanding performance. Their dedication to school has been recognized by these universities. Not only do colleges realize their potential, but so does Arapahoe High School. As these seniors bid farewell to Arapahoe and bring their high school journey to an end, a new life at a university awaits.

In this interview, students Lucy Lawrence, Max Wilson, Sarah Siaya and Erik Bensen give information on their experiences and each individual scholarship.


What school will you be attending and what will you study?

Wilson: Azusa Pacific University- I’m planning on studying Psychology.

Lawrence: Colorado State University- I am exploring two different fields of study- Occupational Therapy and English Literature

Siayap: Colorado State University-  I will be studying Business and Political Science.

Bensen: Colorado School of Mines. I will enter undeclared, but [I] will most likely study Engineering Physics.


What is your scholarship and what was the process you had to go through in order to acquire it?

Wilson: Trustee’s Scholarship is a full-tuition scholarship awarded to 5 incoming freshmen! We had to apply, get in, interview, and then wait! I applied in mid-November, heard back in late January, competed in late-February and heard back a few days later. The essay was about how I define and identify with character and intelligence, and the interview questions were pretty generic: “what are your hobbies” “what are your aspirations” “what is one word to describe your academic style”

Lawrence: The Monfort Scholarship “recognizes superior scholastic ability, leadership, service to community and school and outstanding character. Monfort Scholars receive funds for tuition and fees, a room and board stipend and a book allowance for four years.” The Monfort is only awarded to three students each year and is the most competitive scholarship at CSU. To apply one must submit a detailed application and then, if picked as a finalist, must be interviewed by an eight panel judge.

Siayap: I received the Michael Smith Elite Scholars Scholarship, which is funded by the generous donation of Michael Smith to CSU’s School of Business Administration. I applied for it through CSU’s CSUSA (it’s their school wide general scholarship application) and their CSUSA for students specifically entering the Business School.

Bensen: The Harvey Scholarship,  it is five years full tuition and fees to school of Mines. It is through the Harvey Scholars program at Mines. It is relatively new scholarship, the first class of awardees graduated Mines in 2011. The application and decision process is run entirely by current Harvey scholars. You have to be invited to apply. The criteria is high academic achievement, persevering spirit, but most importantly dedication to giving back to your community. Approximately 550 people are invited to apply, and this year there were 16 awardees. I applied shortly after receiving my acceptance to school of Mines,  then a few months later I was called back for finalist interviews. What I think set me apart for the scholarship was my commitment to volunteering at Lucky Bikes Re-Cyclery for the past several years as well as when I was interviewed on CPR about my views that standardized testing culture is detrimental to education after the PARCC test was introduced last year.


What did you do to get to where you are today and what are some of your experiences?

Wilson: I worked to be successful and involved in my faith, in my academics, and my extracurriculars. I was involved in a lot of leadership opportunities, lots of mentoring, sports, part time working, and a very rigorous course load. The majority of the hard work went into my course load. Over high school, I have taken 7 AP’s and almost all honors classes. I like pain. Lol jk [Laugh out loud, just kidding], I knew that I had to challenge myself and be involved to not only push myself, but to also reach my potential and use my gifts. My parents were super patient and they put so much into my education, even though it was a sacrifice. Them and my brother, because he took a very similar path in high school and so he totally understands the pain and what it takes to get good scholarship money. I applied to like 6 schools and 3 big scholarships so a lot of my time went into essays, meeting in the guidance center about my essays, hating on my essays, and making sure they were perfect. And then when I interviewed for them, a lot of time went into interview practice. It’s really mind-blowing because I honestly didn’t see myself where I am today. It also makes me want to give back, because college is a struggle to pay for for many many many people. It’s also a relief, because throughout high school I felt like all of my pain, sweat, stress, and tears would be for nothing but in the end it all worked out.

Lawrence: I believe that everyone is longing to be seen, known, and loved—the trick is wedging yourself into the cracks of life to love and serve others unconditionally. I have strived to live a life that reflects this truth. When I was six years old I met three college-aged girls who had started an orphanage in Africa, called Musana. Their message of hope amidst great darkness sparked something in me and I started raising money for their orphanage. I had bake sales, lemonade stands, and saved every penny I had, raising a couple hundred dollars by the end of the summer. That summer when I was six years old was the beginning of my focus on serving and loving those around me. Since then I have done everything from work with the homeless in Downtown Denver and in San Diego, I have worked for four summers at a camp for special needs children and adults called Camp Barnabas, I have forgone the normal birthday parties to instead serve the community with good friends whether that be serving a meal at the Ronald McDonald House or making cards for Children’s hospital, I have started the first special-needs ministry at my church, helped start a mentoring program for middle school girls called Girl Talk, served homeless children every other month for four years through an organization called Family Promise, served on a Navajo Indian Reservation for over a week, and worked with two special-needs children at my church for seven years now. In addition to my community service, I have ran on the cross country team for four years, being a captain senior year, and I have participated in many clubs and school activities (Link Crew, Unified Basketball, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Key Club, National Honors Society, Spanish Club, Concert Choir). One of my favorite activities I have been able to be apart of is Unified Basketball. I had the honor of being one of the coaches this year and I loved every minute I got to spend with these incredible athletes and lead such an incredible team.

Though I have been involved in a lot of things over the course of my high school career, I have never done it to “put it on a college application,” but rather I have served because I have a passion for others and believe that people are longing to have someone stop and pay attention to them. I believe deeply, intentionally listening to others is one of the most powerful things one can do for someone else, but it is so often overlooked. You could say, yes I have worked hard to receive the scholarship I did, but my actions were never done with the hopes of getting a scholarship, they were done because it is my passion to love others and serve those around me.

My parents, my sister Emma, and my two good friends, Catherine Holmes and Jessica Girard, have been an integral part in my journey. They have believed in who I am and have never stopped rooting for me. They are the most important things in my life and are not afraid to challenge me so that I can grow. My teachers at Arapahoe have also played a huge part in who I am today. They have been some of the most incredible friends, mentors, and leaders in my life and have taught me how to live a life of character, integrity, compassion, and perseverance. My faith has also been a huge part of my life and is the basis for how I live my life, teaching me what it means to love others unconditionally

Siayap: Since it was awarded based on academic merit, I think that taking challenging classes and maintaining a strong GPA, along with being involved in a handful of things that I really loved (like swimming, cross country, and a variety of volunteer projects) helped me get to where I am now. My mom and brother were always really supportive of me, along with my teachers. I think the most grueling part is staying motivated in school for four years, which is tough. But I really like to learn so that kept me motivated.

Bensen: Academically, I worked every day to be the best I could be.  I found a place to volunteer with a mission I was passionate about. And I wasn’t afraid to take a stand for something I believed in. I didn’t know anything about the scholarship until I was invited to apply,  but I took the chance to apply because it was an amazing opportunity i couldn’t pass up. I always had my family, friends and all of my teachers behind me and rooting for me. [The process] was very grueling. The application was basically another college application,  plus there was the finalist interview to prepare for. I was initially selected as an alternate for the scholarship,  so the time from when I received that news until I heard I got the scholarship was very stressful.


How do you feel?

Wilson: I’m super excited! It’s really relieving to know where I’m going and to have such a monetary gift to make college easier to pay for. But I’m also nervous, it’s really weird going somewhere that’s so different culturally, demographically, and environmentally. You know when you’re a little kid and you look at college kids and you’re all, “Woah they’re so cool! They have their life figured out,”? Ya, that’s all a lie. I basically feel like a little kid who has to do adult things and it’s exciting but at the same time I miss nap time and recess.

Lawrence: I am so humbled to be able to receive the Monfort Scholarship for CSU. I am beyond grateful to the Monfort Scholarship program and the Monfort family for giving so generously to help me, as well as others, in their educational pursuits. I know I have not fully realized the extent of this gift and I hope to use these next four years to continue to serve those around me. I am deeply moved to be given such a gift that affects not only my life, but my families lives and also the lives of the people I will have the opportunity to serve in the future due to the Monfort.

Siayap: I am really excited! I am looking forward to all of the new experiences that college has, and also the opportunities.

Bensen: I feel honored to have received it,  but I’m still kind of in shock.  More than anything,  I’m just glad to know where I’m going. I’m looking forward most to just being able to explore more depth all the things I’ve been fascinated about. I feel super excited to start a new chapter in my life.


What are your plans for the future?

Wilson: I honestly don’t know for sure where I’m going and what I’m doing so I’m praying and just waiting to see where it all fits together! I will take advantage of this by working my butt off some more, and using the money that won’t go to debt to better things. I’m looking forward to the beach. Palm trees. The sun. Being able to wear flip flops in January. I’m basically a Colorado boy who wants to leave the cold.

Lawrence: Though I do not know exactly what the future holds for me, I do know that my passion is serving the poor and marginalized, and I hope to spend the rest of my life living this purpose out. By majoring in English with a teacher’s certificate, my goal is to become a high school English teacher in a low-income neighborhood. The poverty cycle so many are caught in is complicated and multifaceted, but I believe the way forward begins with education, and I want to be a part of that mission. If, instead, I pursue a Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy, my focus will be on reaching out to those in the community who might not be able to afford a trained therapist. I have seen firsthand the difficulty families face by trying to give their loved ones the care they need. My goal would be to help raise the quality of life for those who need it most.

Bensen: I want to end up in the renewable energy field as a research scientist or some kind of engineer. So especially with NREL [National Renewable Energy Laboratory] right around the corner,  Mines is the perfect place to achieve that. Plus Mines has a really interesting liberal arts program that i get to be a part of. I think it will be fascinating to look at STEM fields from a liberal arts perspective.


What advice do you have for your younger peers?

Wilson: Never give up. Find friends that push themselves too, and won’t make fun of you for trying too hard. There are so many opportunities for scholarships that you couldn’t dream of, and college is a possibility even when you’re not sure it is. And do what you love. I ultimately dropped some things that I didn’t love to pursue what I did. And get plugged in, find a community and find people that love you. Super cliché but don’t do drugs and stay in school. You guys got this.

Lawrence: Life is difficult, messy, and often painful but we must recognize that from all darkness comes a great light. Our lives are so much more than this one moment so stop and pay attention to those around you. Stopping and intentionally listening to those around you is the most important thing you can do for someone. Never do anything just so you can “put it on a college application,” because in the end it is never satisfying. Remember that looking someone in the eyes is powerful,  becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable is essential for growing in maturity, compassion is not a momentary event, and lasting impact happens outside of the spotlight.

Siayap: I think that instead of trying to get a laundry list of things to put on your resume, get involved in a few things that you really love (like sports or a club or another organization). Also, as far as school goes, taking challenging courses really helped me grow as a student. In regards to the actual college process, when the time comes to apply for scholarships take this part seriously and do your research. It never hurts to apply to them, and the worst they can say is “No.”

Bensen: Don’t be afraid to take a chance on something.