Nichole Wilson, who graduated from Soroco High School on Saturday, recently was awarded a $28,000 scholarship from the Masonic Grand Lodge of Colorado.
Wilson is one of 14 Colorado students to receive the $7,000, four-year renewable scholarship. Tara Schneider, a senior at Steamboat Springs High School, also received the scholarship, as was previously reported in the Steamboat Today.
"I really wanted it," Wilson said about the scholarship. "I wanted it because I got accepted to CU Boulder, and I wasn't sure how I was going to pay for everything."
The scholarship will be a huge help, said Wilson, who plans to study elementary education. Without the scholarship, she said she would have had to take out student loans.
Tom Yackey, master of Egeria Lodge No. 167f Oak Creek and Yampa, was a member of the interview committee that selected Wilson from a group of local students.
"She was ... a good student and very well-directed and defined in what she plans to do in the future," Yackey said.
"You feel like you have invested your money well in somebody that has pretty definite directions that they want to go (in)."
Several hundred students from across the state applied for the scholarships. More than $8 million in scholarships has been awarded to 680 Colorado students since the program began in 1967, Yackey said.
Wilson has taken 31 credits worth of college courses through Soroco's dual enrollment program with Colorado Northwestern Community College and has been a member of Soroco's basketball and track teams since she was in ninth grade. Wilson also has participated in the school's Future Business Leaders of America chapter.
Wilson said she decided that she wanted to be a teacher a year ago when she visited her grandmother, who works at a school in Grand Junction. While in Grand Junction, Wilson was an aide for a first-grade teacher and said she "absolutely loved it."
Her favorite part, she said, was working with children.
Wilson said she thinks teaching is a way to give back to the community.
Friends have questioned her career choice, saying teachers don't make much money.
"Money is not what I'm worried about," Wilson said she told her friends. "As long as I'm happy and doing what I love, then money doesn't matter."
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